Tuesday, December 4, 2018

The Mystery Continues! Truly Devious & The Vanishing Stairs

Were you, like us, completely flabbergasted by that one heck of a cliffhanger in Maureen Johnson's Truly Devious?  Well, fear not---the mystery continues soon with The Vanishing Stairs, hitting shelves January 22nd, 2019!! For now, go out and pick up the paperback of Truly Devious so you can see what we mean! It's out today! And be sure to check out Amy's full review here if you need more convincing! :D

Be sure to keep an eye on my Instragram as I'll be hosting a fabulous giveaway for a copy of Truly Devious and a pre-order of The Vanishing Stairs very soon!!

Also, Maureen Johnson will be seeking you out on her upcoming tour! 
Epic Reads announced all the stops today. Will you mysteriously appear??
Keep an eye on EpicReads.com for more details!!

Thursday, November 8, 2018

The Boneless Mercies by April Genevieve Tucholke {review + giveaway}

The Boneless Mercies
by April Genevieve Tucholke
♦publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
♦release date: October 2nd, 2018•
♦hardcover, 384 pages
♦intended audience: Young adult
♦stand-alone, retelling
♦source: from publisher for review consideration
A dark standalone YA fantasy about a band of mercenary girls in search of female glory.

Frey, Ovie, Juniper, and Runa are the Boneless Mercies—girls hired to kill quickly, quietly, and mercifully. But Frey is weary of the death trade and, having been raised on the heroic sagas of her people, dreams of a bigger life. 

When she hears of an unstoppable monster ravaging a nearby town, Frey decides this is the Mercies' one chance out. The fame and fortune of bringing down such a beast would ensure a new future for all the Mercies. In fact, her actions may change the story arc of women everywhere.

I've long been a fan of April Tucholke's signature bizarre and stylistic storytelling, and when I heard she would be putting it to a high fantasy tale, I couldn't have been more excited. Her gorgeous writing has always given such a fantastical and eerie feel to contemporary stories, I could only imagine how unique her take on the mythical tale legend of Beowolf would be. I admit, I wasn't that familiar with the source material but it didn't stop me from diving headlong into this retelling.

The Boneless Mercies themselves...wow. What a dynamic group of women. Frey, Juniper, Ovie, and Runa--a sisterhood in the best sense of the word. Each had their own strengths and complicated weaknesses.  Each had their own reasons for being in the life they led...and for maybe wanting out. I love how closely they worked together, how they knew each other so deeply and bolstered each other up. I love that it was a gender-bent, feminist take on this legend without making all men villainous and hateful. There was even Trigve, a man who traveled with them and fought by their side---his backstory and his unconventional relationship with Frey added so much to the story.  For each of the characters in turn, there were moments of anger and passion and quiet inner searching as they journeyed to try their hand at defeating a legendary beast. This story was hideously bloody at times, heartbreaking at many times, and thoughtful and completely unputdownable(*) though the entire thing.  April Tucholke does it again. 

(*On a side and very personal note, I say unputdownable, even though I did at one point, actually put it aside. In the beginning, it takes the time to really show what the Boneless Mercies do--they are, quite literally, human reapers. They are paid by the sick or suffering or their family to take someone's life as a mercy killing and it shows them doing this for people of all ages.  Because of things going on in my life, this was too painful and too emotional of an idea for me and I had to set it aside.  Still, a while later, I was called back to this book, a journey and battle that I knew April would make into a beautiful story, so I picked it up again. It lured me in and, yes, after that it was unputdownable!)


April Genevieve Tucholke is the author of Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, Between the Spark and the Burn, and Wink Poppy Midnight. She also curated the horror anthology Slasher Girls & Monster Boys. She has received five starred reviews and her novels have been chosen for the Junior Library Guild, Kids' Indie Next picks, and YALSA Teens Top Ten. When she's not writing, April likes walking in the woods with her two cheerful dogs, exploring abandoned houses, and drinking expensive coffee. She has lived in many places around the world, and currently resides in Oregon with her husband.


Purchase the book:  Indiebound  •  BookDepository  •  Amazon

International Giveaway!
Winner's choice of edition: US Hardcover or UK Paperback
Both are gorgeous so I wanted to give you the choice! :D
Ends 11/15 at 11:59 PM
Must be 13 or older or have parent permission.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly meme created by Jill at Breaking the Spine. A spin-off of the meme called "Can't Wait Wednesday" is now hosted at Wishful Endings. It lets us all gush about what soon-to-be released books we are jumping-up-and-down excited for.

by Jennifer L Armentrout

hitting shelves June 11th, 2019  
from Inkyard Press
Eighteen-year-old Trinity Marrow may be going blind, but she can see and communicate with ghosts and spirits. Her unique gift is part of a secret so dangerous that she’s been in hiding for years in an isolated compound fiercely guarded by Wardens—gargoyle shape-shifters who protect humankind from demons. If the demons discover the truth about Trinity, they’ll devour her, flesh and bone, to enhance their own powers.

When Wardens from another clan arrive with disturbing reports that something out there is killing both demons and Wardens, Trinity’s safe world implodes. Not the least because one of the outsiders is the most annoying and fascinating person she’s ever met. Zayne has secrets of his own that will upend her world yet again—but working together becomes imperative once demons breach the compound and Trinity’s secret comes to light. To save her family and maybe the world, she’ll have to put her trust in Zayne. But all bets are off as a supernatural war is unleashed…

My thoughts:  So---this says it's book four in the Dark Elements series (which I haven't read) but it looks likes its a new set of characters? I'm hoping this means its more of a stand-alone companion, just in the same world. This looks amazing, and I've been a long-time fan of Jennifer's books. It's a long wait for this one, but so excited!!

What book are you eagerly anticipating this week?

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Fawkes by Nadine Brandes {review}

by Nadine Brandes
♦publisher: Thomas Nelson Books
♦release date: July 10th, 2018
♦hardcover, 448 pages
♦intended audience: Young adult
Thomas Fawkes is turning to stone, and the only cure to the Stone Plague is to join his father’s plot to assassinate the king of England.

Silent wars leave the most carnage. The wars that are never declared, but are carried out in dark alleys with masks and hidden knives. Wars where color power alters the natural rhythm of 17th century London. And when the king calls for peace, no one listens until he finally calls for death.

But what if death finds him first?

Keepers think the Igniters caused the plague. Igniters think the Keepers did. But all Thomas knows is that the Stone Plague infecting his eye is spreading. And if he doesn’t do something soon, he’ll be a lifeless statue. So when his Keeper father, Guy Fawkes, invites him to join the Gunpowder Plot—claiming it will put an end to the plague—Thomas is in.

The plan: use 36 barrels of gunpowder to blow up the Igniter King.

The problem: Doing so will destroy the family of the girl Thomas loves. But backing out of the plot will send his father and the other plotters to the gallows. To save one, Thomas will lose the other.

No matter Thomas’s choice, one thing is clear: once the decision is made and the color masks have been put on, there’s no turning back.

{Becky's Thoughts}
For those readers out there that fall hard for a grand historical with an irresistible magical twist (me! me!!), Fawkes is definitely a must-read.  This one really had so much to entwine readers into it's spell. I wasn't all that familiar with the true story of Guy Fawkes (aside from it being the inspiration for some wild bonfire gatherings in the UK--thank you Sherlock), but it didn't take away from my enjoyment of watching this creative take unfold.

17th century London finds itself enchantingly altered, as we follow Thomas Fawkes, son of the infamous Guido Fawkes through a journey to find his magic, his father, love, and finally, his true self.  

Brandes fills this alternate London with such rich detail, from the terrifying Stone Plague that will cut Thomas' life short if he doesn't find a way to stop it's spread, to the complicated war between the Keepers and Igniters, both wielding a unique form of magic called color magic. I loved the idea that each person wielded a distinct and beautiful mask to control their power with---it gave the entire world an atmosphere that was like an ongoing masquerade on the dark gray streets of London.

Thomas was at times clever and clear thinking, but would often veer into petulant territory when it came to getting his mask from his father. His frustration was palpable and he definitely had me rooting for him, but yes, the whining was also a little grating.  He struggles constantly with living up to his father's name, earning his respect, and being able to decide for himself what is right. Emma is an incredibly character, her story adding layers and layers to the romance, the diversity, the challenge and the danger of the entire plot. She was fierce with her magic and so smart but also kind. Many instances, I definitely thought she stole the show!

With a plot this is a satisfying labyrinth of twists and a romance that beckoned me to figure out if they could overcome their extreme differences to let love win out, Fawkes was a wonderful twist on history, and I'm absolutely looking forward to more historical magic from this author.

• About the Author •

Nadine once spent four days as a sea cook in the name of book research. She's the author of FAWKES and of the award-winning The Out of Time Series. Her inner fangirl perks up at the mention of soul-talk, Quidditch, bookstagram, and Oreos. When she's not busy writing novels about bold living, she's adventuring through Middle Earth or taste-testing a new chai. Nadine and her Auror husband are building a Tiny House on wheels. Current mission: paint the world in shalom.

Author Links:   Website  •  Twitter   •   Instagram    

Find the book:   Amazon • BookDepository • Indiebound

Friday, October 26, 2018

Keeper of the Bees by Meg Kassel {review}

by Meg Kassel
♦publisher: Entangled Teen
♦release date: Septemeber 4th, 2018
♦hardcover, 304 pages
♦intended audience: Young adult
♦series: companion to Black Bird of the Gallows
♦source: from publisher for review consideration
KEEPER OF THE BEES is a tale of two teens who are both beautiful and beastly, and whose pasts are entangled in surprising and heartbreaking ways.

Dresden is cursed. His chest houses a hive of bees that he can’t stop from stinging people with psychosis-inducing venom. His face is a shifting montage of all the people who have died because of those stings. And he has been this way for centuries—since he was eighteen and magic flowed through his homeland, corrupting its people.

He follows harbingers of death, so at least his curse only affects those about to die anyway. But when he arrives in a Midwest town marked for death, he encounters Essie, a seventeen-year-old girl who suffers from debilitating delusions and hallucinations. His bees want to sting her on sight. But Essie doesn’t see a monster when she looks at Dresden.

Essie is fascinated and delighted by his changing features. Risking his own life, he holds back his bees and spares her. What starts out as a simple act of mercy ends up unraveling Dresden’s solitary life and Essie’s tormented one. Their impossible romance might even be powerful enough to unravel a centuries-old curse.

{Becky's Thoughts}

I could not have been more enthralled by this book!
This second story by author Meg Kassel plunges us back in to the world she first introduced in Black Bird of the Gallows. It's a spin off that takes us deeper into the lives of the ominous beekeepers and harbinger crows that follow disaster from town to town, feeding off human fear and death. And while I really enjoyed Black Bird of the Gallows, I loved Keeper of the Bees so much. A rich Beauty and the Beast type story, where the true spin is that both of our main characters have beauty and beastliness in them. Both of them will face down their curses and find each other waiting at the end of the battle.

Who knew I could ever be enchanted by a character who shoots bees from his mouth?? 😄Dresden is a beekeeper, the bees inside him sting a person and turn them dark and violent. His face morphs between the faces of all his victims, but Dresden remembers who he once was, and there is kindness and compassion and humanity in him that makes him hate what he is. It's that compassion that lets him see into the gentle soul of a girl who struggles with the delusions and hallucinations. Essie is shunned in her town because of her family's "curse"--- a mental illness that seems to have been passed down through generations. She doesn't know what to make of Dresden with his changing faces and bees---it intrigues her more than anything else. Both of them seem fascinated that the other can see past what others see and assume of them, so they find themselves drawn together. There was such a sweetness to this love story.  I love how the mental illness was handled--Essie knows how sick she is, but aside from sometimes being scared by her hallucinations, she doesn't fear it or feel shame or spite. It is what is it is and she owns it with grace.  

There is one truly terrifying new addition to the supernatural world in this story. The Strawman sent shivers down my spine at his every appearance, but even this chill-inducing creature is written with such great complexity. And there is one other that absolutely had my skin crawling---but you'll have to read to find out more!

There is so much heart to this story. Both Essie and Dresden have such challenges to face on their own, but they strengthen each other so much in coming together. And I have to say, Meg Kassel knows how to write a crazy twist ending that will leave her readers breathless. Pick this one up asap---it's perfect for Halloween (or anytime!). 

• About the Author •

Meg Kassel is an author of fantasy and speculative books for young adults. A graduate of Parson's School of Design, she’s been creating stories, whether with visuals or words, since childhood. Meg is a New Jersey native who lives in a log house in the Maine woods with her husband and daughter. As a fan of ’80s cartoons, Netflix series, and ancient mythology, she has always been fascinated and inspired by the fantastic, the creepy, and the futuristic. She is the 2016 RWA Golden Heart® winner in YA and a double 2018 RITA® finalist for her debut novel, Black Bird of the Gallows.

Author Links:   Website  •  Twitter   •   Instagram  •   

Find the book:   Amazon • BookDepository • Indiebound

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly meme created by Jill at Breaking the Spine. A spin-off of the meme called "Can't Wait Wednesday" is now hosted at Wishful Endings. It lets us all gush about what soon-to-be released books we are jumping-up-and-down excited for.

by Claire Eliza Bartlett

hitting shelves April 2nd, 2019  
from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Seventeen-year-old Revna is a factory worker, manufacturing war machines for the Union of the North. When she's caught using illegal magic, she fears being branded a traitor and imprisoned. Meanwhile, on the front lines, Linné defied her father, a Union general, and disguised herself as a boy to join the army. They're both offered a reprieve from punishment if they use their magic in a special women's military flight unit and undertake terrifying, deadly missions under cover of darkness. Revna and Linné can hardly stand to be in the same cockpit, but if they can't fly together, and if they can't find a way to fly well, the enemy's superior firepower will destroy them--if they don't destroy each other first.

My thoughts:  I could be way off base with this, but I am totally picturing an alternate universe 1940s Rose the Riveter type character with magical abilities. And I am 100% HERE FOR IT!!!  Then I see that they are plunged into a Night Witches type flight unit, and I am completely dead waiting for this one to come out!! Deadly missions, forbidden magic,...it all sounds amazing!!

What book are you eagerly anticipating this week?

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly meme created by Jill at Breaking the Spine. A spin-off of the meme called "Can't Wait Wednesday" is now hosted at Wishful Endings. It lets us all gush about what soon-to-be released books we are jumping-up-and-down excited for.

by Nadine Brandes

hitting shelves May 7th, 2019  
from Thomas Nelson
The history books say I died.

They don’t know the half of it.

Anastasia “Nastya” Romanov was given a single mission: to smuggle an ancient spell into her suitcase on her way to exile in Siberia. It might be her family’s only salvation. But the leader of the Bolshevik army is after them . . . and he’s hunted Romanov before.

Nastya’s only chances of survival are to either release the spell, and deal with the consequences, or enlist help from Zash, the handsome soldier who doesn’t act like the average Bolshevik. Nastya’s never dabbled in magic before, but it doesn’t frighten her as much as her growing attraction for Zash. She likes him. She thinks he might even like her . . .

That is, until she’s on one side of a firing squad . . . and he’s on the other.

My thoughts:  So, this quickly became on of my most anticipated books of  2019 the second I heard about it!!  I loved this author's magical twist on the historical legacy of Guy Fawkes so  I can't wait to see this fantastic spin on the Romanovs and the lost princess Anastasia. It's such a fascinating story to begin with---add in a little magic and spells and a dangerous chase? I am SOOO ready for this adventure!

What book are you eagerly anticipating this week?