Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Seriously Shifted by Tina Connolly

Title: Seriously Shifted
Author: Tina Connolly
Genre: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy
Series: Seriously Wicked # 2

Hardcover, 240 Pages
Publication: November 1, 2016 by Tor Teen

Source: I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for a honest review.

Buy|Amazon|B&N|


Teenage witch Cam isn’t crazy about the idea of learning magic. She’d rather be no witch than a bad one. But when a trio of her mother’s wicked witch friends decide to wreak havoc in her high school, Cam has no choice but to try to stop them.

Esmerelda is the mean girl of the witches. Valda likes to drop anvils on people’s heads. And Malkin—well, Malkin is just plain terrifying. Their idea of fun is a little game—they each pick a student from Cam’s high school and compete to see who can make their teen the most miserable. But Cam suspects one of the witches may have an ulterior motive…which means someone at school could be in worse danger yet.

Now Cam’s learning invisibility spells, dodging exploding cars, and pondering the ethics of love potions. All while trying to keep her grades up and go on a first date with her crush. If the witches don’t get him first, that is.

Can’t a good witch ever catch a break?

I had the pleasure of reading Connolly’s YA series, Seriously Wicked, last year and enjoyed it. I thought it was a fun and cute read. It reminded me a lot of Sabrina the Teenage Witch…a show I loved as a kid. Seriously Shifted, the second book in the series was just as fun as the first book! In the last book our protagonist Cam stopped The Witched Witch from wrecking havoc on her school and taking over the world. And in this sequel we found Cam taking on three evil witches determined to turn her school into a play ground. Each witch targeted a specific classmate, where misery was the goal and a mental breakdown meant winning. With the help of Jenah, Cam’s mother A.K.A. The Witched Witch and new friends Henny and Leo; Cam is on a mission to outsmart and out-witch the Do-Badder-Club Witches.

Cam is learning to embrace her witchy side and is finally willing to learn the ins and outs of witchcraft. Not only does Cam not want to be like her mother, she is determined to be a good and ethical witch; which was a little harder than it seemed when she’s surrounded by evil witches hell-bent on creating mayhem and tricking Cam into using non-ethical ingredients like Pixie Bone or Goat’s Blood. All the while, Cam is still trying to balance school, friends, and romance with the endless chores and lessons Sarmine kepy stacking on Cam.

I adored Cam and her friends. I loved that Cam wanted to use her magic to help and protect others. At sixteen, teenagers are usually more self absorbed and can only think of themselves. But not Cam; she went out of her way to help everyone…even people she barely knew. As for Cams friends, they were very supportive of Cam and had her back no matter the situation. They were just an all around great and unique group of people.

I definitely enjoyed Seriously Shifted. It was another fun and cute addition to the series and I am looking forward to reading more of Cam’s adventures in spells and high school. If you’re looking for a light, fun or quick read, I highly recommend picking up this series, beginning with Seriously Wicked.



Friday, November 18, 2016

I'm Not your Manic Pixie Dream Girl by Gretchen McNeil

Title: I'm Not your Manic Pixie Dream Girl
Author: Gretchen McNeil
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Fiction
Series: N/A - Standalone

Hardcover, 352 Pages
Publication: October 18, 2016  by Balzer + Bray

Source: I received a review copy from Saichek Publicity in exchange for a honest review.

Purchase|Amazon|B&N|
Beatrice Maria Estrella Giovannini has life all figured out. She's starting senior year at the top of her class, she’s a shoo-in for a scholarship to M.I.T., and she’s got a new boyfriend she’s crazy about. The only problem: All through high school Bea and her best friends Spencer and Gabe have been the targets of horrific bullying.

So Bea uses her math skills to come up with The Formula, a 100% mathematically guaranteed path to social happiness in high school. Now Gabe is on his way to becoming Student Body President, and Spencer is finally getting his art noticed. But when her boyfriend Jesse dumps her for Toile, the quirky new girl at school, Bea realizes it's time to use The Formula for herself. She'll be reinvented as the eccentric and lovable Trixie—a quintessential manic pixie dream girl—in order to win Jesse back and beat new-girl Toile at her own game.

Unfortunately, being a manic pixie dream girl isn't all it's cracked up to be, and “Trixie” is causing unexpected consequences for her friends. As The Formula begins to break down, can Bea find a way to reclaim her true identity and fix everything she's messed up? Or will the casualties of her manic pixie experiment go far deeper than she could possibly imagine?
I first heard about this book back in February. McNeil was a guest author at a book signing I was attending. And at this signing the authors all talked about their current/upcoming projects and it was there that McNeil talked about her upcoming book, I’m Not your Manic Pixie Dream Girl. McNeil is known for her Mystery/Horror novels and stated that this book is unlike anything she ever wrote before. I was intrigued, so when I was pitched this book to review I immediately and happily agreed!

This book was quite a surprise. I enjoyed it more than I expected considering I’m not a fan of the term/trope ‘Manic Pixie Dream Girl’ but there were definitely some up and downs that came with the territory. I liked the concept of the book, it may not be anything new…we’ve seen it done one way or another but McNeil put her own spin on it and made it her own. The writing was smooth and it flowed perfectly which kept me engaged the entire time. For a contemporary book, there sure was a lot of action which is always a must for me.

The initial stage of Bea’s formula experiment was fun and entertaining to watch. It kind of reminded me of Mean Girls, When Cady infiltrated Regina’s group. It was cool seeing her formula working immediately; skyrocketing her and her friends from nobodies to the most popular kids in school. But her experiment began to spiral out of control and she started to see the cause and effects of her actions. I’ll admit the Manic Pixie Dream Girl had me smiling and giggling at the beginning but after awhile it got a bit tiring and cringe worthy. Bea crossed a line that she shouldn’t have and lost track of why she did the experiment in the first place. However, everything didn’t completely go downhill. Bea eventually realized what she was doing, fixed her mistakes and the story ended on a good note.

All in all, I’m Not your Manic Pixie Dream Girl was a fun read. It wasn’t perfect by any means but it’s definitely worth a read and I really liked McNeil’s writing style. If you’re looking for a light, fun, and easy read, then give this book a try!


Friday, November 11, 2016

[BLOG TOUR] I’M NOT YOUR MANIC PIXIE DREAM GIRL BY GRETCHEN MCNEIL: AUTHOR PROFILE + CONTEST

Welcome to my stop on I'M NOT YOUR MANIC PIXIE DREAM GIRL Blog Tour. For today's stop, I have a fun author profile for you and one lucky reader will get a chance to win their very own copy of I'm not your Manic Pixie Dream Girl! Check out the post below.




Meet Gretchen!

Gretchen McNeil's latest novel, I'm Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl, is a romantic contemporary comedy. She is also known for her suspense and horror novels. 

We wanted to share 10 fun facts about Gretchen and her books with you!

- She tries to cook every night.
- She is a former coloratura soprano.
- She lends her voice to the character Mary on G4's Code Monkeys.
- She sings with the LA-based circus troupe Cirque Bezerk.
- Her favorite movie is Clue.
- Her least favorite movie is Titanic.
- Her favorite author is Agatha Christie.
- Her favorite color is red.
- She got married in a bookstore.
- Her novels have been sold in Chinese, Spanish, and Turkish.




ABOUT THE BOOK

Published October 18, 2016  by Balzer + Bray
Young Adult, Contemporary Fiction
Hardcover, 352 Pages
Purchase|Amazon|B&N|


Beatrice Maria Estrella Giovannini has life all figured out. She's starting senior year at the top of her class, she’s a shoo-in for a scholarship to M.I.T., and she’s got a new boyfriend she’s crazy about. The only problem: All through high school Bea and her best friends Spencer and Gabe have been the targets of horrific bullying.

So Bea uses her math skills to come up with The Formula, a 100% mathematically guaranteed path to social happiness in high school. Now Gabe is on his way to becoming Student Body President, and Spencer is finally getting his art noticed. But when her boyfriend Jesse dumps her for Toile, the quirky new girl at school, Bea realizes it's time to use The Formula for herself. She'll be reinvented as the eccentric and lovable Trixie—a quintessential manic pixie dream girl—in order to win Jesse back and beat new-girl Toile at her own game.

Unfortunately, being a manic pixie dream girl isn't all it's cracked up to be, and “Trixie” is causing unexpected consequences for her friends. As The Formula begins to break down, can Bea find a way to reclaim her true identity and fix everything she's messed up? Or will the casualties of her manic pixie experiment go far deeper than she could possibly imagine?




GIVEAWAY

A big thanks to Saichek Publicity, I have one (1) copy of I'm Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl to give away!

To enter please answer the following question by sharing it in the comments and/or on social media (with these hashtags)


Who is your favorite “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” character from a movie or book — why?


#GretchenMcNeil 
#ImNotYourManicPixieDreamGirl



a Rafflecopter giveaway





ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gretchen McNeil is an opera singer, a writer, and a clown. She is also the author of Get Even as well as Ten, which was a 2013 YALSA Top Ten Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, a Romantic Times Top Pick, and an ALA Booklist Top Ten Horror Fiction for Youth and was nominated for Best Young Adult Contemporary Novel of 2012 by Romantic Times. Gretchen blogs with the Enchanted Inkpot and is a founding member of the vlog group the YARebels.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Bury the Living by Jodi McIsaac

Title: Bury the Living
Author: Jodi McIsaac 
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Series: The Revolutionary #1

Trade Paperback, 302 Pages
Publication: September 6, 2016 by 47North

Source: I received a review copy from Saichek Publicity in exchange for a honest review.

Buy|Amazon|B&N|

Rebellion has always been in the O’Reilly family’s blood. So when faced with the tragic death of her brother during Northern Ireland’s infamous Troubles, a teenage Nora joined the IRA to fight for her country’s freedom. Now, more than a decade later, Nora is haunted by both her past and vivid dreams of a man she has never met.

When she is given a relic belonging to Brigid of Kildare, patron saint of Ireland, the mystical artifact transports her back eighty years—to the height of Ireland’s brutal civil war. There she meets the alluring stranger from her dreams, who has his own secrets—and agenda. Taken out of her own time, Nora has the chance to alter the fortunes of Ireland and maybe even save the ones she loves. In this captivating and adventurous novel from Jodi McIsaac, history belongs to those with the courage to change it.

I had some trepidation Going into Bury the Living. It was being compared to one of the most famous and well known Historical Fantasy novel, Outlander. It was a lot to live up to. While Bury the Living shared one aspect with Outlander, that being it’s a time-travel novel; that was where the similarities ended. Bury the Living was a book distinctly its own and I enjoyed it nonetheless.

McIaasc was meticulous and detailed in the account of Ireland’s history. Many reviewers felt that the book was bogged down by the amount of information presented early on in the book. That it was too much. I on the other hand was fascinated by the IRA, Free State and PIRA. I thought McIaasc did a great job balancing the history and fantasy part of the novel. The characters were definitely special. They brought the rebellion to life and made learning about the Irish history all the more interesting. Our main heroine, Nora, was a spitfire. She had a hot temper and jumped head first into danger without any regards to herself when it came to people she cared about or for what she believed in. I admired her tenacity. Nora wasn’t the only strong female in the book. There were plenty of them, mostly from Cumann na mBan, The Irish Women Paramilitary Organization. There was also a potential love interest for Nora but it was still too early to tell and thankfully it wasn’t the main focus of the story.

I thought time-travel was as fantasy as it was going to get in Burying the Living but things took an unexpected turn. A little past half way through the book, the story took on a more fantasy than historical fiction vibe. McIaasc incorporated old forgotten gods, myths and fairytales into the mix. I wasn’t expecting that all. It was different, if not a little farfetched but it didn’t bother me or take away anything from the story. This unexpected turn left a door wide open for more possibilities and sequels and with how Bury the Living ended I am eager to see where this series goes. And most importantly why was Nora chosen of all people and how is she and Thomas supposed to help each other? So many questions! All in all, Bury the Living is a great start to a new series! I can’t wait for the sequel! I highly recommend checking out Burying the Living if you’re looking for something fresh, unique and a quick read!



Thursday, November 03, 2016

Metaltown by Kristen Simmons

Title: Metaltown
Author: Kristen Simmons
Genre: Dystopian, Young Adult
Series: N/A, Standalone

Hardcover, 380 pages
Publication: September 20, 2016 by Tor

Source: I received a review copy from Saichek Publicity in exchange for a honest review. 

Buy|Amazon|B&N|

Lena’s future depends on her family’s factory, a beast that demands a ruthless master, and Lena is prepared to be as ruthless as it takes if it means finally proving herself to her father.

But when a chance encounter with Colin, a dreamer despite his circumstances, exposes Lena to the consequences of her actions, she’ll risk everything to do what’s right.

In Lena, Ty sees an heiress with a chip on her shoulder. Colin sees something more. In a world of disease and war, tragedy and betrayal, allies and enemies, all three of them must learn that challenging what they thought was true can change all the rules.

You guys, this book was freakin' amazing! Ah-mazing! After reading the synopsis I knew It was a book I needed to read. And I am so glad I did. Metaltown is a story about friendship, family, hope, and never giving up on your dreams. This book had it all.

Metaltown is a dystopian through and through; you have the feel and setting of the past, all the technology of the future, and a group of suppressed people who want a revolution. But I couldn’t help thinking about some of similarities the book had to hot topics nowadays as I read this book. It felt as if Simmons ripped out our news and incorporated it into the story. Which I will get to soon. As the title suggests, the main focus of the story is on Metaltown, a dilapidated city inhabited by the lower class echelon and full of bustling factories cranking out weapon parts to fund what felt like a never ending war. However, Metaltown isn’t the only city we see, readers occasionally found the characters in Bakerstown (middle class) and The River District (Upper Class) which was a stark contrast to Metaltown.

The book is narrated by three characters, Ty and Colin, two teenagers from Metaltown and Lena from The River District. The first character we met is Ty. Ty is by far my favorite of all the characters. Ty was a tough as nail chick and I immediately connected with her character right off the bat. She’s a hard worker, fiercely loyal to the core and isn’t afraid to go toe-to-toe with the guys or big slicks that run Metaltown. Next is Colin. At first glance, Colin seems like a cocky, laid back, go-with-the-flow kind of guy. But he was so much more than a pretty face. He is liked by all and is an all around good guy. What Colin wanted the most was a better life for his family and the people of Metaltown. He dreams big, an optimist and doesn’t let his present status/situation deter him from what he wants to accomplish. And finally there’s Lena, an heiress to the Hampton Empire who is living in a gilded cage. Lena seems to live a privileged life; she lives in a big house in The River District, her father owns all the factories, she has her own personal servant and tutor. And unlike the people in Bakerstown and Metaltown; she doesn’t have to worry about food or shelter. Except her life isn’t as perfect as it seems. Lena took some time warm up to. At the start of the book she was your typical rich girl, ignorant to the conditions of the working class but as the book progressed she took the time to learn about Metaltown, its factories and the people that live/work there.

As I mentioned before I thought there were so many similarities to what was going on in the book and what is happening right now. It was freaky how realistic it was, as if we were living in our own version of dystopia. There were two things that stood out to me. The first one is pretty obvious, genetically modified food. In this case, corn being the biggest staple. Since food and water is a scarce commodity, food isn’t properly tested and instead it is mass produced. This led to people getting sick or worse dying from the corn flu. We are surrounded by tons of GMO Food; it’s literally everywhere and in everything that we consumed. Secondly, as we saw with Hampton Industries and from Hampton's own mouth; War is profitable. This is a phrase I hear time and time again. In the story, Lena’s father owns all the factories in Metaltown and each factory specializes in a specific part that goes into producing more weapons and bombs for the war. Doesn’t it sound like our situation? We’ve been involved in a war for who knows how long and it doesn’t seem like it’s going to change anytime soon. And we have war for exactly the same reason…because it’s profitable. I think there were more things, but I can’t remember what it was at the moment! But if you guys read Metaltown (you really should!), you’ll know what I mean.

Bottom line, I loved it! It was better than I expected and I felt that this book is very relevant to what is happening lately. Simmons did an incredible job with the world building and characters. The entire time I felt as If I was standing beside Ty, Colin and Lena as they fought and pressed against the Brotherhood. It usually takes me a while to connect with the characters and get invested into a story but she hooked me from the first page. And that ending! I did not see it coming, but then again after that revelation, I guess it was too good to be true. It was very bittersweet. As I said before this book had it all, if you love books about friendship, family and rebellion then this is the book for you! Metaltown should be on everyone’s must read list and a coveted spot on your keeper shelf! 



Tuesday, October 25, 2016

[Blog Tour] Early Review: An Import of Intrigue by Marshall Ryan Maresca + Giveaway



I am so happy to take part in Maresca's Blog Tour for An Import of Intrigue, the second book in The Maradaine Constabulary series; which releases next Tuesday, November 1st! This is an amazing series you guys, one that should be on everyone 'Must Read' list! And one lucky reader will be going home with their very own set of the series (so far)! See below for more details.




Title: An Import of Intrigue
Author: Marshall Ryan Maresca
Genre: Fantasy-Mystery
Series: a #2

Mass Market Paperback, 389 pages
Publication: November 1, 2016 by Daw

Source: I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for a review/blog tour.

Pre-order|Amazon|B&N|
The neighborhood of the Little East is a collision of cultures, languages, and traditions, hidden away in the city of Maradaine. A set of streets to be avoided or ignored. When a foreign dignitary is murdered, solving the crime falls to the most unpopular inspectors in the Maradaine Constabulary: exposed fraud Satrine Rainey, and uncircled mage Minox Welling.

With a murder scene deliberately constructed to point blame toward the Little East, Rainey is forced to confront her former life, while Welling’s ignorance of his own power threatens to consume him. And these few city blocks threaten to erupt into citywide war unless the constabulary solves the case.

An Import of Intrigue is the second book in The Maradaine Constabulary Series and his second series in the World of Maradaine following Constables Welling and Rainey. The book takes place approximately two months after the events in A Murder of Mages. Welling is still trying to understand and train himself in using his gifts and Rainey is adjusting to her job, officially as an Inspector. However, after the truth of her stunt was made public, there were a lot of coworkers still unhappy with how Rainey procured her position…the nontraditional way. But the life of a Constable is no easy-going job, as both inspectors are constantly on their feet and investigating crimes; whether it is human trafficking, illegal bear fights or grisly murders.

The world of Maradaine is very complex and meticulously thought out and once again Maresca takes readers on another adventure but this time through the streets of Little East, a hodge podge city where different cultures collide. After reading three books in the world of Maradaine, I thought I was getting a grasp on all the cities that make up Maradaine and its inhabitants…but nope. Little East is on the edge of The Maradaine River between Keller Cove and Inemar and home to foreigners such as Imachs, Racquins, and Fuergans; people with exotic appearance, food and languages. I’ll be honest, the Little East’s inhabitants’ name pronunciations was seriously hard and confusing and it didn’t get any easier as the back progress. It literally felt like entering an entirely new world, even Welling, Rainey and the gang were astounded to find a place like that existed just a few blocks from where they lived.

In this stellar sequel, a murder of a nobleman takes Inemar finest but least liked duo across the way to Little East in search of a killer. Welling and Rainey hit a bunch of dead ends and are left with more questions than answers. And to make matters worse Rainey encountered an old foe from her past and Welling’s power gets cut off leaving him out-of-sorts and confused. In An Important of Intrigue readers delved deeper into Maradaine but we also got to learn more about Rainey and her past; especially during her time as an undercover princess and after with her stint in the Druth Intelligence. I’m not usually a fan of flashbacks but I really enjoyed learning more of Rainey’s history. And the more I read about Rainey’s heyday and the feisty child she used to be, I loved her character even more. Welling on the other hand felt less developed this time around. He was having his own battles to deal with. While we learn a great deal more about Rainey, we didn’t learn anything new/or significant when it came to Welling. Which I hope will be fixed later in subsequent books.

All in all, An Import of Intrigue is an excellent follow up in The Maradaine Constabulary Series and addition to the Maradaine world. I love the world, the characters and the mystery and can’t wait to see what’s in store for my two favorite constables! One thing I can say with certainty is Maresca never disappoints and I can always expect a unique, fun and engaging fantasy adventure full of magic and mayhem! Can’t get enough of Maresca’s Maradaine? Good news! I was ecstatic to learn that Maresca will be publishing a third, yes, THIRD series in the world of Maradaine featuring a ragtag bandit group / vigilantes. I’ll be honest, in my last review I mentioned how difficult it must be to write two series in the same world simultaneously…but a third just sounds ludicrous! Am I Right? With that beings said, I can’t freakin’ wait to read it…more Maradaine? Yes, please!






GIVEAWAY

US/CA ONLY

Thanks to the wonderful folks at Penguin Random House, I have 1 (one) Set of The Maradaine Constabulary series to giveaway! To enter, please fill out the Rafflecopter below!


a Rafflecopter giveaway


ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Marshall Ryan Maresca grew up in upstate New York and studied film and video production at Penn State.  He now lives Austin with his wife and son.  His work appeared in Norton Anthology of Hint Fiction and Rick Klaw’s anthology Rayguns Over Texas. He also has had several short plays produced and has worked as a stage actor, a theatrical director and an amateur chef. His novels The Thorn of Dentonhill and A Murder of Mages each begin their own fantasy series, both set in the port city of Maradaine. For more information, visit Marshall’s website at www.mrmaresca.com.

Monday, October 24, 2016

[Spotlight] Bury the Living by Jodi McIsaac + Giveaway

Are you a fan of  the Outlander Series or time-traveling novels? Then check out McIsaac's new book and first in The Revolutionary Series, Bury the Living! Don't forget to enter the giveaway at the end of the post!


Publication: September 6, 2016 by 47North
The Revolutionary #1
Purchase|Amazon|B&N|
Rebellion has always been in the O’Reilly family’s blood. So when faced with the tragic death of her brother during Northern Ireland’s infamous Troubles, a teenage Nora joined the IRA to fight for her country’s freedom. Now, more than a decade later, Nora is haunted by both her past and vivid dreams of a man she has never met.

When she is given a relic belonging to Brigid of Kildare, patron saint of Ireland, the mystical artifact transports her back eighty years—to the height of Ireland’s brutal civil war. Here she meets the alluring stranger from her dreams, who has his own secrets—and agenda. Taken out of her own time, Nora has the chance to alter the fortunes of Ireland and maybe even save the ones she loves. In this captivating and adventurous novel from Jodi McIsaac, history belongs to those with the courage to change it.
GIVEAWAY

US ONLY

Thanks to Saichek Publicity, I have one (1) copy of BURY THE LIVING to give away to one lucky reader, to enter please fill out the Rafflecopter below!




ABOUT THE AUTHOR



Jodi McIsaac is the author of the Irish contemporary fantasy series The Thin Veil (47North) the thriller A Cure for Madness (Thomas & Mercer) and the forthcoming historical Revolutionary series, starting with Bury the Living (47North).

She grew up in New Brunswick, on Canada's east coast. After abandoning her Olympic speed skating dream, she wrote speeches for a politician, volunteered in a refugee camp, waited tables in Belfast, earned a couple of university degrees, and started a boutique copywriting agency. She loves geek culture, running, and whisk(e)y.


*Author image and bio via Goodreads

Connect with Jodi|Website|Twitter|Facebook|Goodreads|

Sunday, October 23, 2016

A Murder of Mages by Marshall Ryan Maresca

Title: A Murder of Mages
Author: Marshall Ryan Maresca
Genre: Fantasy-Mystery
Series: The Maradaine Constabulary #1

Mass Market Paperback, 352 Pages
Publication: July 7, 2015 by Daw

Source: Purchased

Buy|Amazon|B&N|
Satrine Rainey—former street rat, ex-spy, mother of two, and wife to a Constabulary Inspector who lies on the edge of death, injured in the line of duty—has been forced to fake her way into the post of Constabulary Inspector to support her family.

Minox Welling is a brilliant, unorthodox Inspector and an Uncircled mage—almost a crime in itself. Nicknamed “the jinx” because of the misfortunes that seem to befall anyone around him, Minox has been partnered with Satrine because no one else will work with either of them.

Their first case together—the ritual murder of a Circled mage— sends Satrine back to the streets she grew up on and brings Minox face-to-face with mage politics he’s desperate to avoid. As the body count rises, Satrine and Minox must race to catch the killer before their own secrets are exposed and they, too, become targets.

Last year I had the opportunity to read Maresca’s debut novel The Thorn of Dentonhill and I absolutely loved it. Maresca expands on the world of Maradaine with a companion series, set in new cities, with new characters. Maresca takes readers away from the pristine ground of Maradaine University to the grim, poverty, crime-ridden areas of Maradaine and introduces readers to the Constables that protect the streets. The book is centered on two of Inemar constables, Satrine Rainey and Minox Welling, but the truth of the matter is; only one of them is a constable and the other one a fake. Satrine was a former street rat and now, a stay-at-home mom of two but due to a work related accident leaving her husband paralyzed and unable to care for himself, it’s up to Satrine to keep the household going. Concocting a haphazard plan to keep her family afloat, Satrine doctored fake credentials to get her a high paying position as a Third Class Inspector in the Ienmar Constabulary House. Satrine not thinking much of the job but a means to an end found herself plunged head first into a murder case involving dead mages, circle feuds; all while trying to watch her back and not blow her cover.

Now that I’ve read both of Maresca’s series, I have to say that I liked this series a bit more! A Murder of Mages like The Thorn of Dentonhill is exceptionally well written, with a solid and engaging plot and wonderful world building, but I am a sucker for mysteries and police procedural…and A Murder of Mages had both! I was immediately taken with Satrine and Minox, they made the perfect pair and complemented each other wonderfully like Sherlock and Watson! I especially adored Satrine, I found her to be an interesting and multifaceted character. Satrine used to be a scrappy street rat turned uncover spy turned stay at home mom; she was definitely full of surprises having lived and experienced a hard life. Then there’s Minox, a Third Class Inspector who was special in his own peculiar way. He’s what I’d call antisocial, who always worked alone because no one understood his personality and behavior. What made it even more difficult for Minox was being an un-circled mage, something that's feared and frowned upon. It also didn’t help that he lives, breathes and consumes work (and a whole lot of food) making him an outcast not only from the other mages but also the constables. Though they couldn’t be more different, I really loved the dynamic between Minox and Satrine. They just brought out the best in each other. And while I don’t mind reading about partners whose relationship goes from work to intimate, I thought it was refreshing to see their relationship as nothing but platonic which was a nice unexpected change.

It’s rare to have an author write two brand new series alongside each other, in the same world and pull it off…it should be somewhat impossible but Maresca does it brilliantly and successfully. A Murder of Mages is a fantastic new series that expands on the world of Maradaine, with a clever murder mystery and realistic and relatable characters that will have readers coming back for more once they turn the last page. If you haven’t read any of Maresca’s books yet, do yourself a favor and put A Murder of Mages on your list ASAP!



Wednesday, October 19, 2016

[Blog Tour] Beast by Brie Spangler

Title: Beast
Author: Brie Spangler
Genre: Contemporary Fiction 
Series: Standalone

Hardcover, 305 Pages
Publication: October 11, 2016 by Knopf BFR

Source: I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for a honest review/blog tour.

Buy|Amazon|B&N|
Tall, meaty, muscle-bound, and hairier than most throw rugs, Dylan doesn’t look like your average fifteen-year-old, so, naturally, high school has not been kind to him. To make matters worse, on the day his school bans hats (his preferred camouflage), Dylan goes up on his roof only to fall and wake up in the hospital with a broken leg—and a mandate to attend group therapy for self-harmers.

Dylan vows to say nothing and zones out at therapy—until he meets Jamie. She’s funny, smart, and so stunning, even his womanizing best friend, JP, would be jealous. She’s also the first person to ever call Dylan out on his self-pitying and superficiality. As Jamie’s humanity and wisdom begin to rub off on Dylan, they become more than just friends.

But there is something Dylan doesn’t know about Jamie, something she shared with the group the day he wasn’t listening. Something that shouldn’t change a thing. She is who she’s always been—an amazing photographer and devoted friend, who also happens to be transgender. But will Dylan see it that way?

What initially drew my attention to this book was the beautiful cover, I mean, just look at it! I was even more excited when I heard it was a new twist on Beauty and the Beast, one of my all-time favorite fairy tale. Beast being big and hairy 15-year-old Dylan, who’s beginning his sophomore year in high school and Beauty, a stunning transgender girl name Jamie whom Dylan meets in therapy.

Beast was beautiful as it was heartbreaking. It was an emotional roller-coaster; there were some great happy moments and scary and sad moments. Dylan our protagonist and narrator was known as ‘Beast’ at his school due to his size, almost 7 feet tall and his accelerated hair growth. The school is ruthless in their taunting and even his best friend JP uses the nickname freely and frequently. There is never a moment that goes by that Dylan isn’t reminded of his peculiarity. So one day Dylan thought the solution to his problem was getting injured, so he ‘accidentally’ fell off a roof, which landed him with a broken leg and an order to do group therapy. It was in therapy that he meets Jamie and thus began a relationship between the two. Except at the start of their relationship, Dylan is oblivious to Jamie being transgender and once he learned the truth things gets confusing, complicated and dangerous for them and everyone around them.

Dylan and Jamie were very realistic and relatable characters. Although I never had it as rough as they did in high school, I do know how cruel high school kids can be. All anyone ever wants to do is fit in, be normal and to be accepted but life is never easy or fair. I empathized with both Dylan and Jamie but there were times that I just wanted to shake Dylan for his remissness regarding Jamie and her feelings. Who knew smart people can be so dense? Jami e on the other hand was a breath of fresh air. She was always true to herself and was unapologetic about it. No matter how many times people tried to knock her down her or pretend that she didn’t exist, she never let them affect her…much. Yes, it was hard for Jamie but the bullies never won or had the satisfaction of seeing their words or action affect her.

Spangler’s Beast was thoughtful and well written and I enjoyed it so much more than I expected to. If you’re looking for a unique take on a beloved fairy tale, then I highly recommend reading Beast because you won’t be disappointed. It’s about overcoming physical and social norms and finding love in unexpected places…have a box of tissues ready, because you’re going to need it!







ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Author/illustrator of children's picture books and YA novels, Brie Spangler loves to draw and write stories and drink massive amounts of caffeine, but not quite Dave Grohl "Fresh Pot!"/require hospitalization levels. Writing down the ideas in her head was scary as a kid, so she turned to making pictures instead. Brie worked as an illustrator for several years before she began to write and immediately became a frothing addict. BEAST is her debut novel



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Sunday, October 16, 2016

[Spotlight] Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven




AVAILABLE NOW
Published October 4, 2016 by Knopf BFYR
Hardcover|Amazon|B&N|
eBook|Amazon|B&N|
Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, the girl once dubbed “America’s Fattest Teen.” But no one’s taken the time to look past her weight to get to know who she really is. Following her mom’s death, she’s been picking up the pieces in the privacy of her home, dealing with her heartbroken father and her own grief. 

Now, Libby’s ready: for high school, for new friends, for love, and for every possibility life has to offer. In that moment, I know the part I want to play here at MVB High. I want to be the girl who can do anything. 

Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin, too. Yes, he’s got swagger, but he’s also mastered the impossible art of giving people what they want, of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a newly acquired secret: he can’t recognize faces. Even his own brothers are strangers to him. He’s the guy who can re-engineer and rebuild anything, but he can’t understand what’s going on with the inner workings of his brain. So he tells himself to play it cool: Be charming. Be hilarious. Don’t get too close to anyone. 

Until he meets Libby. When the two get tangled up in a cruel high school game—which lands them in group counseling and community service—Libby and Jack are both pissed, and then surprised. Because the more time they spend together, the less alone they feel. Because sometimes when you meet someone, it changes the world, theirs and yours. 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Niven has always wanted to be a Charlie's Angel, but her true passion is writing. Her most recent book, All the Bright Places, is her first novel for young adult readers and tells the story of a girl who learns to live from a boy who intends to die. All the Bright Places was the GoodReads Choice Award for Best Young Adult Fiction of 2015, and named a Best Book of the Year by Time Magazine, NPR, the Guardian, Publisher's Weekly, YALSA, Barnes & Noble, BuzzFeed, the New York Public Library, and others. It was also the #1 Kids' Indie Next Book for Winter '14-'15 and SCIBA's Young Adult Book of the Year, as well as being nominated for the Carnegie Medal and longlisted for the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize. As of today, the book has spent over thirty weeks as a New York Times bestseller, and foreign rights have sold to forty-one foreign territories. The movie rights have been optioned with Elle Fanning attached to star and Jennifer writing the script. As a companion to the book, Jennifer has created Germ, a web magazine for and run by girls (and boys) — high school and beyond — that celebrates beginnings, futures, and all the amazing and agonizing moments in between.*
*Via Author's Website
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Monday, October 10, 2016

[Early Review] The Librarians and The Lost Lamp by Greg Cox

Title: The Librarians and The Lost Lamp
Author: Greg Cox
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: The Librarians #1

Paperback, 272 pages
Publication: October 11, 2016 by Tor Books

Source: I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for a honest review.

Pre-Order|Amazon|B&N|

For thousands of years, the Librarians have secretly protected the world The Librarians from dangerous magical relics and knowledge, including everything from Pandora’s Box to King Arthur’s sword.

Ten years ago, Flynn Carson was the only living Librarian. When the ancient criminal organization known as the Forty steals the oldest known copy of The Arabian Nights by Scheherazade, Flynn is called in to investigate. Fearing that the Forty is after Aladdin's fabled Lamp, Flynn must race to find it before the Lamp's powerful and malevolent djinn is unleashed upon the world.

Today, a new team of inexperienced Librarians, along with Eve Baird, their tough-as-nails Guardian, is investigating an uncanny mystery in Las Vegas when the quest for the Lamp begins anew . . . and the fate of the world hangs in the balance.


The Librarians and The Lost Lamp is the first book in a planned trilogy based on TNT’s hit show, The Librarians; which follows a group of Librarians A.K.A protectors of humanity against magical artifacts such as Excalibur, The Golden Goose to The Spear of Destiny and Pandora ’s Box. I’m familiar with The Librarian films that aired back in the early 2000’s but I haven’t gotten around to seeing the show based on the movies. However, when I was asked if I wanted to review The Librarians and The Lost Lamp, I was immediately intrigued and jumped at the chance! I’m sure everyone is familiar with The Book of One Thousand and One Nights, ‘The Arabian Nights’ or at least heard of Aladdin and the magic lamp. It’s a very well known tale and one I enjoy hearing about so of course I wanted to read it. It sounded like a fun book…and I’m glad to say it absolutely was fun and so much more than I expected!

The book jumps back and forth between 2006 with Flynn, the sole librarian at the time and present day 2016 with a new group of librarian recruits as they search for the infamous lost lamp that belonged to Aladdin. Little did they know that their current case was a case that began 10 years ago when Flynn was in Baghdad in search of the Lamp and battling The Forty. This book was action packed right from the beginning and never let up once as readers jump back and forth between the past and present. Readers get to see Flynn and museum curator Sirin run for their lives in a bazaar in Baghdad to out flying a Roc on a magic carpet. But the action doesn’t stop there as we travel back to present day and find the newly minted librarians in Sin City investigating whether or not a man truly has Lady Luck on his side or some sort of magical advantage. This book was loads of fun and I loved how Cox weaved a wonderful adventure showcasing Aladdin’s Lamp and The Book of One Thousand and One Nights. Cox’s vivid imageries were so detailed that the book played out like a movie in my mind and has me curious and itching to start the TV show now!

All in all, The Librarians and The Lost Lamp was an excellent start to a brand new series and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for The Librarians. I highly recommend this book to everyone. There’s a little bit of everything for everyone such as: action, adventure, history, magic, a little romance and a whole lot of imagination. And in the meantime, I think I’m going to go check out the first season of The Librarians!