Saturday, March 30, 2013

New Shelf Goodies & The Weekly Nutshell {41}

For New Shelf Goodies, I'll be showing you what lovely books I acquired this week, whether from publishers, or the library, or from whatever half-crazed book-buying binge I happened to go on. :D (Inspired by Alea @ Pop Culture Junkie's This Week in Books & Tynga's Stacking the Shelves) The Weekly Nutshell will be just week here at Stories & Sweeties, in a nutshell. (inspired by Ginger @ GReads and her recaps at the end of the TGIF posts)

Well, I am sitting here typing as fast as I can, the thunder and lightning is raging outside my window, and I'm hoping to get this post done and up before the power goes out!! :D 

Here's what I got this week:

For review:
decided to grab this one since I've really enjoyed Zadoff's work before.

Must know Maxon's backstory! :)

Loved Whispers in Autumn, book 1 to this series (reviewed here) Looking forward to more!

 The Weekly Nutshell:

That's all for this week!  I've been on the verge of sick the past few days---my system doesn't seem to want to decide if I have cold or not.  I'm voting no, but I'm not sure head and nose are listening. Furthermore, my youngest pulled his neck while jumping in a bounce house.  Ugh.  Word to the wise---keep your kids away from those things!  The ER nurse said she sees SO many kids come in injured from bounce houses.  He was looking pretty sad and pathetic in his little whiplash collar. :( You live, you learn, I guess.  

Have a great week, everyone!
And to those who celebrate it...Happy Easter! :D

Friday, March 29, 2013

Becky's View: The Art of Wishing by Lindsay Ribar

The Art of Wishing by Lindsay Ribar
♦publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers
♦release date: March 21st, 2013
♦hardcover, 314 pages
♦intended audience: Young adult
♦series: The Art of Wishing, book 1
♦source: from publisher for honest review
He can grant her wishes, but only she can save his life.

Margo McKenna has a plan for just about everything, from landing the lead in her high school play to getting into a good college. So when she finds herself in possession of a genie's ring and the chance to make three wishes, she doesn't know what to do. Why should she put her life into someone else's hands?

But Oliver is more than just a genie -- he's also a sophomore at Margo's high school, and he's on the run from a murderer. As he and Margo grow closer, she discovers that it will take more than three wishes to save him.

A whole lot more.

The Art of Wishing initially drew me in with an absolutely adorable cover and a story about a paranormal being that we hardly ever see in YA fiction: genies!  And yes, we're talking about the 'rub my lamp and get three wishes' sort of genies.  Only this time, Genies have come a long way and been given a fun modern twist.  This story reads almost like a contemporary story: a high school senior, Margo, who is big into theatre and singing gets passed over for her dream part in the high school play for a mousy, untalented sophomore, only everyone else seems to think she is incredible and Margo just can't figure out what could be going on.  She comes to find out the part-stealer has had a little help in the way of a mysterious new boy who is suddenly always around.  

Margo was a little tough to take a first.  Its clear that she is talented and experienced in singing and theatre, but she knows it and the cocky way she reacted to not getting the part made her hard to root for.  Slowly she shows her strengths and grows on you as you get to know her character and some of the things going on in her life (including a very unique dilemma with her and her parents), as she throws herself into the part she did get and becomes closer to Oliver, her new friend who also happens to be a genie.  She has discovered the ring that is his "lamp", so to speak, and now she has three wishes coming.  He tells her they will be his last wishes to ever grant and he sort of chose her because he thought she would be smart and make good wishes, but I was never really sure why he though so highly of her right off the bat.  She does actually play it smart and her character grows as she attempts to make wishes that will not disappoint Oliver's confidence in her.  The stakes are upped when she finds out exactly why these will be his last wishes and the story takes a dark and dangerous turn.

The ending was full of suspense and what happens actually took me quite by surprise!  The Art of Wishing was a fun quick read, light and humorous at times, with a little darkness slipped in; an interesting take on genie legend, and a sweet love story. 
Find Lindsay Ribar online: Website  •  Twitter

Purchase The Art of Wishing:  Amazon  •  Book Depository  •  Indiebound

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It lets us all gush about what soon-to-be released books we are jumping-up-and-down excited for.
Tumble & Fall
by Alexandra Coutts

hitting shelves September 17th, 2013 from Farrar, Staus, & Giroux

description: A novel about the end of days full of surprising beginnings

The world is living in the shadow of oncoming disaster. An asteroid is set to strike the earth in just one week’s time; catastrophe is unavoidable. The question isn’t how to save the world—the question is, what to do with the time that's left? Against this stark backdrop, three island teens wrestle with intertwining stories of love, friendship and family—all with the ultimate stakes at hand.

Alexandra Coutts's TUMBLE & FALL is a powerful story of courage, love, and hope at the end of the world.

My thoughts: Ok granted this concept has been done twice in recent movies, one that I absolutely haaaaated (Melancholia) and one that I actually kinda loved (Seeking a friend for the end of the world), it occurs to me that this theme can be done in so many ways, and I can't wait to see the YA-take on it!  Gorgeous cover, also... can't overlook that!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Becky's View: Pretty Girl-13 by Liz Coley

Pretty Girl-13 by Liz Coley
♦publisher: HarperTeen
♦release date: March 19, 2013
♦hardcover, 352 pages
♦intended audience: Young adult
♦source: from publisher for honest review
Reminiscent of the Elizabeth Smart case, Pretty Girl-13 is a disturbing and powerful psychological mystery about a girl who must piece together the story of her kidnapping and captivity.

Angie Chapman was thirteen years old when she ventured into the woods alone on a Girl Scouts camping trip. Now she's returned home…only to find that it's three years later and she's sixteen-or at least that's what everyone tells her.

What happened to the past three years of her life?

Angie doesn't know.

But there are people who do — people who could tell Angie every detail of her forgotten time, if only they weren't locked inside her mind. With a tremendous amount of courage, Angie embarks on a journey to discover the fragments of her personality, otherwise known as her "alters." As she unearths more and more about her past, she discovers a terrifying secret and must decide: When you remember things you wish you could forget, do you destroy the parts of yourself that are responsible?

Liz Coley's alarming and fascinating psychological mystery is a disturbing - and ultimately empowering page-turner about accepting our whole selves, and the healing power of courage, hope, and love.

Review: This is no easy read. Be forewarned, the subject matter is not pleasant.  Pretty Girl-13 is a psychological mystery that will have you simultaneously gripping the pages and wanting to throw the book into a corner to feel safe again as you realize that situations like this actually happen.  This is the story of Angie who was kidnapped at 13, and three years later she finds herself walking home, with no memory whatsoever of how she got there or that the years have even passed.  It starts as a creepy story about memory loss and spirals quickly into the story of a girl whose whole being has been fractured in several pieces.  It's gritty realistic fiction, but at times was so disturbing and trippy that it felt almost paranormal.

I've always been fascinating by multiple personality cases.  The disturbing part is hearing about what traumatic events can cause them.  Angie went through some terrible things, and her brain split into different personalities to enable her to cope with them.  Now that she's back home, those personalities are keeping their secrets---and Angie has to decide if she really wants to know.  The way the story is told is so well done. Each personality makes their appearance either through letters or recordings to Angie when they are in control, or under hypnosis.  Part of the tension of the story deals with Angie and her parents dealing with what happened as a family, the guilt and anger and sadness is all addressed and feels volatile and real. Still, I felt Angie faced her situation with courage, while still showing a very definite vulnerability when it comes to how she feels towards the different "people" inside her. 

The story unfolds with compelling quickness, and while some things that I'm sure were meant to be revelations were fairly predictable, it was one hell of ride watching Angie unfold her own mysteries.  One small thing that just wouldn't stop bothering me about Angie's story (and it's a tiny bit spoilery so I'll white it out):* What on earth was Angie doing offering to babysit when she knew she could black out at any time? And what kind of irresponsible parents would allow their teen to babysit knowing she had an unstable personality??  Just the mother in me having a freak out about that part, I guess. :) * I would hope that that would never happen, so I guess it came across as a bit unrealistic and contrived just to fuel a subplot.

Pretty Girl-13 was still a fascinating and stomach-churningly horrific story of one girl's discovery of a past that is she is slowly revealing to herself and learning to make herself whole again, built from the strengths of each of her many different sides. 
 Find Liz Coley online: Website  •  Twitter  •  Facebook

Purchase Pretty Girl-13:  Amazon  •  BookDepository  •  Indiebound

Monday, March 25, 2013

Becky's View: The Holders by Julianna Scott

The Holders by Julianna Scott
♦publisher: Strange Chemisty
♦release date: March 5th, 2013
♦paperback, 320 pages
♦intended audience: Young adult
♦series: The Holders, book 1
♦source: from publisher for honest review
17-year-old Becca spent her whole life protecting her brother from, well, everything. The abandonment of their father, the so called 'experts' who insist that voices in his head are unnatural and must be dealt with, and the constant threat of being taken away to some hospital and studied like an animal. When two representatives appear claiming to have the answers to Ryland's perceived problem, Becca doesn't buy it for one second. That is until they seem to know things about Ryland and about Becca and Ryland's family, that forces Becca to concede that there may be more to these people than meets the eye. Though still highly skeptical, Becca agrees to do what's best for Ryland.

What they find at St. Brigid's is a world beyond their imagination. Little by little they piece together the information of their family's heritage, their estranged Father, and the legend of the Holder race that decrees Ryland is the one they've been waiting for. However, they are all--especially Becca--in for a surprise that will change what they thought they knew about themselves and their kind.

She meets Alex, a Holder who is fiercely loyal to their race, and for some reason, Becca and Ryland. There's an attraction between Becca and Alex that can't be denied, but her true nature seems destined to keep them apart. However, certain destinies may not be as clear cut as everyone has always believed them to be.

Becca is lost, but found at the same time. Can she bring herself to leave Ryland now that he's settled and can clearly see his future? Will she be able to put the the feelings she has for Alex aside and head back to the US? And can Becca and Ryland ever forgive their father for what he's done?

Review:  The Holders was so much more than I expected!  From the cover, I think I expected more of a serious high fantasy---what I got was a fantastic story with some great Harry-Potter type fantasy elements, and a great plot surrounding a fierce heroine with a wicked temper, especially when it comes to protecting her little brother from, well, ...everyone!  

Becca has always put protecting her brother, Ryland, first and foremost in her life.  There father left them two weeks after Ryland was born and her mother pretty much crumbled after that.  Ryland hears voices and for years, doctors, counselors, teachers have all been trying to take him away, and Becca has been there to chase them off every step of the way.  Because no matter what anyone tries to say, she know her brother is not crazy.  Then finally one day, two men show up that may finally be able to help.  Becca and Ryland find themselves in Ireland, at a school run by the one man Becca never wanted to see again...their father.

Becca was so fierce and I loved her from the moment I saw her temper flare in protection of her terrified little brother.  I loved how close they were and how the dynamic was addressed that not only was she determined to make sure he was safe, but she didn't realize how much she needed him to need her.  That and her temper made her very genuine and flawed.  I thought the rocky relationship with her estranged father was really well done, there was definitely an issue of anger and hurt for her to deal with there.

Loved the love story! It was perfect and slow-building...while she did admit to being attracted and impressed by Alex, she was so used to keeping her guard up that there was none of the dreaded 'I just met you but I think I'm in love' syndrome. He was sweet and good with Ryland and grew closer to Becca little by little with the way he watched out for both of them.  I loved the funny reference to certain love stories where the girl falls for the guy only to find out he's a hundred-plus years old. There were some really humorous moments throughout---not surprising with such a huge cast of eclectic characters, many that I really loved!

The story has some great surprises and twists, lots of magic, lore, and dangerous excitement.  I highly recommend picking this one up, I doubt you'll be disappointed!  The next in this series will be high on my list of anticipated reads next year!
Find Julianna Scott online:  Web  •  Twitter 

Purchase The Holders:  Amazon  •  BookDepository  •  Indiebound

Read an exerpt:

Saturday, March 23, 2013

New Shelf Goodies & The Weekly Nutshell {40}

For New Shelf Goodies, I'll be showing you what lovely books I acquired this week, whether from publishers, or the library, or from whatever half-crazed book-buying binge I happened to go on. :D (Inspired by Alea @ Pop Culture Junkie's This Week in Books & Tynga's Stacking the Shelves) The Weekly Nutshell will be just week here at Stories & Sweeties, in a nutshell. (inspired by Ginger @ GReads and her recaps at the end of the TGIF posts)

It was terribly dead on my blog this week! I've been without a computer almost all week while we do some house rearranging and hardwood floors were being installed.  Very excited about that, but I definitely missed blogging

Here's what I got this week---huge thanks to Scholastic, Penguin, HarperTeen, & Random House for sending all these goodies my way!
This looks like the start of a great boarding school paranormal series!
Yay! So excited for this companion to Grimm Legacy!
Shaman Pandas! This looks so quirky.
SUPER excited for all of these!!

Very excited for all of these, but they are actually all duplicates for me. So keep an eye out, I'll either be putting these up for giveaway or trade in the next few weeks! ;)

I've heard awesome things about the first books to those last two--will have to track them down!
(So happy to have a hardcopy of this one!!)

No nutshell this week, since it was basically radio silence around here!  The house upheaval is still in process but I'm hoping to keep my computer set up until the very last moment before I move it to it's permanent spot!  I seriously need to catch up on my reviews, but I have been reading like crazy...expect reviews of This is What Happy Looks Like, The Art of Wishing, Pretty Girl-13, and The Holders  SOON! :)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

New Shelf Goodies & The Weekly Nutshell {39}

For New Shelf Goodies, I'll be showing you what lovely books I acquired this week, whether from publishers, or the library, or from whatever half-crazed book-buying binge I happened to go on. :D (Inspired by Alea @ Pop Culture Junkie's This Week in Books & Tynga's Stacking the Shelves) The Weekly Nutshell will be just week here at Stories & Sweeties, in a nutshell. (inspired by Ginger @ GReads and her recaps at the end of the TGIF posts)

 Two new goodies for me this week!
For review:
I chose this one as a WoW pick a few months back, so I snatched it up when I saw it hit netgalley!
This sounds good, so I'm going to give Echols books one more try! (I haven't had much luck in the past---the few I've tried before just haven't been my cup o' tea!) 

Many thanks to Month9Books and MTV Books for these!

 The Weekly Nutshell:

I feel like my whole week got sucked down a hole---my poor little guy has been sick, so neither of us have left the house in four days. Ugh.  

Hope you all had a better week! ;)  Happy reading! 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Amy's View: The Phoenix Girls: The Conjuring Glass by Brian Knight

The Conjuring Glass (Phoenix Girls #1)
by Brian Knight
♦publisher: Journalstone
♦release date: March 8th, 2013
♦paperback, 204 pages
♦intended audience: Middle Grade/Young adult
♦source: from publisher for honest review
When thirteen-year-old orphan Penny Sinclair moves to the small town of Dogwood to live with her godmother, she expects her life to become very dull. She doesn't expect to find a strange talking fox roaming the countryside near her new home, a kindred spirit in her new friend Zoe, or the secret grove where they discover the long hidden magic of The Phoenix Girls.

Learning to use magic isn't easy, though; Penny and Zoe get their magic wrong almost as often as they get it right. When something sinister threatens Dogwood, their often accidental magic may be the only thing that can stop it.

Review: A magical journey of friendship and belonging. The Conjuring Glass embodies a unique strength of character with an exemplary sense of discovery.

For Penny Sinclair, things don’t seem like they can get any worse. After her mother’s untimely death, she is forced to move into the new town of Dogwood where being heckled by the local kids and trying to make friends is the new normal. Life seems like it is in a downward spiral, with no hope in site. Penny however has no idea about the drastic changes that are about to happen. It all begins with a chance encounter with a fox name Ronan, who might just possess the change she is looking for. He he leads her down a path of hope, opening the door to world of magic, the magic of the Phoenix Girls.

Armed with a new friend and the mysterious talking fox, Penny and Zoe set off on a quest that leads to a secluded grove that houses a secret all of its own. Nestled inside the grove, remains a wooden chest with a carving of a half bird, half flame adorning the top, leaving with it not only a mystery of whose it was but what it contains. In spite of the lure behind the mystery, opening the box might be more than the girls can handle. By unleashing the magic and the secrets of the phoenix girls, Penny and Zoe might be unyielding a dangerous power all of its own. It casts them into the middle of a sinister plot entwined with a mysterious carnival run by a malevolent magician, and children that suddenly turn up missing. Penny finds herself torn between solving the mystery and finding answers about her past, causing her decisions to be tainted, thrusting her and Zoe into a dangerous situation where magic might be the only means that can save their lives.

The Conjuring Glass is a charming read laced with easily identifiable characters, talking foxes, a wicked carnival, an evil magician, kidnapping and magic. It pulls you in from the very first chapter with an intrigue that propels you to quickly read through the book, searching for answers. It’s a compelling short book, where you quickly become immersed in the storyline. Being the first of this series, The Conjuring Glass is filled with secrets and mysteries of The Phoenix Girls that is yet to be fully discovered or solved, leaving you anxiously anticipating the next book.

Phoenix Girls: The Conjuring Glass was excellently written and perfect for young adults as well as middle readers. Pure in essence and purpose, Brian Knight gently gives a voice to Penny though her realistic raw emotions emoted through her internal dialogue as well as through the strength of her character. Giving her a sense of belonging and confidence letting Penny discover that being confident in yourself is the strongest magic you can wield.

Find Brian Knight online: Website  •  Facebook

Purchase The Conjuring Glass:  Amazon  •  BookDepository 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Becky's View: Unremembered by Jessica Brody

Unremembered by Jessica Brody
♦publisher: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux
♦release date: March 5, 2013
♦hardcover, 320 pages
♦intended audience: Young adult
♦series: Unremembered, book 1
♦source: from publisher for honest review
When Freedom Airlines flight 121 went down over the Pacific Ocean, no one ever expected to find survivors. Which is why the sixteen-year-old girl discovered floating among the wreckage—alive—is making headlines across the globe.

Even more strange is that her body is miraculously unharmed and she has no memories of boarding the plane. She has no memories of her life before the crash. She has no memories period. No one knows how she survived. No one knows why she wasn’t on the passenger manifest. And no one can explain why her DNA and fingerprints can’t be found in a single database in the world.

Crippled by a world she doesn’t know, plagued by abilities she doesn’t understand, and haunted by a looming threat she can’t remember, Seraphina struggles to piece together her forgotten past and discover who she really is. But with every clue only comes more questions. And she’s running out of time to answer them.

Her only hope is a strangely alluring boy who claims to know her from before the crash. Who claims they were in love. But can she really trust him? And will he be able to protect her from the people who have been making her forget?

Review: Thanks to a really well done cryptic description, the reader goes into Unremembered pretty much in the dark---which I loved.  I really had no idea what kind of mystery would be unveiled that would land a girl in the middle of the ocean, the only survivor of a plane crash, full amnesia, and no one can figure out who she is.  The beginning of the story is played out beautifully, really keeps you on the edge of your seat and keeps you guessing.  I have to admit that the prologue foreshadowing got me really excited for a certain kind of story---then it turned out to be something else. While the unpredictability was a welcome thing, the big picture was a little more sci-fi than I'd hoped for.  Still, the concept was interesting, the story was incredibly face-paced as Sera races to find answers and safety, and the love story was good, so I still enjoyed this one quite a bit.

Sera is quite a fireball from the very beginning. Her frustration and harshness to everyone around her is understandable in the situation she was in.  When she moves in with a foster family, you can see her really trying to get her bearings, while still trying to figure out the truth about what happened.  I loved the relationship she built with her 13-year-old foster brother, Cody, though I couldn't help thinking a few times how reckless she was about putting him in danger.  

The love story had a good spark to it. I loved how they had a connection through poetry and Shakespeare, and how he uses that to jog her memories of him.  Their whole escape plan kind of hinges on their shared love of poetry and I thought that was kind of sweet.  

There are some characters that really keep you guessing about which side they are really on.  And then there were also obvious bad guys that were a bit cliche for my tastes.  Great hulking goons all dressed in black clothes and smirks, and an antagonist that I couldn't help but picture with the smooth mocking voice of Jeremy Irons.  He also has the classic super-dramatic villainous monologue scene to wrap things up. A bit cheesy, but it served to answer a few questions.

Despite a few additional quirks I had with this one (i.e,a character that jumps into the story, does a major info dump, and then her part is seemingly over.), I enjoyed the way it started out as a mystery and turned out to be a fun, action-filled sci-fi story.  

Give this one a try---I wouldn't say I loved it, but I definitely found it a fun, entertaining way to pass the afternoon.
  Find Jessica Brody online: Website  •  Twitter  •  Facebook

Purchase Unremembered: Amazon  •  BookDepository  •  Indiebound

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It lets us all gush about what soon-to-be released books we are jumping-up-and-down excited for.

A Most Dangerous Deception
by Sarah Zettel

hitting shelves November 5th from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

A warning to all young ladies of delicate breeding who wish to embark upon lives of adventure: Don't.
Sixteen-year-old Peggy is a well-bred orphan who is coerced into posing as a lady in waiting at the palace of King George I. Life is grand, until Peggy starts to suspect that the girl she's impersonating might have been murdered. Unless Peggy can discover the truth, she might be doomed to the same terrible fate. But in a court of shadows and intrigue, anyone could be a spy—perhaps even the handsome young artist with whom Peggy is falling in love . . . History and mystery spark in this effervescent series debut.

My thoughts:  This looks fun!! History and mystery---always a good combo. :)

Monday, March 11, 2013

Old Books, New Looks {6}

Time again for another round of Old Books, New Looks, where I feature the covers of books that have already been released and their redesigned paperback counterpart! :) Sometimes I like the new better, sometimes I like the old. Here's a few that I've come across lately:


So, how do I feel about these?
BZRK: Great change---the new cover has so much more impact.
Keeping the Castle: I acutally love both of these, but I think if I saw the new cover on the shelf, I'd think it was a middle grade book.
Little Women & Me: Both very cute. You get more of a feel of what the story is about with the original, and the second is kind of ordinary, though.
Book of Blood and Shadow: I don't love the original cover, but I think the paperback cover looks too much like an adult novel.   It lost it's "YAness".
Venom:  I like the change for this one.  The mask theme is getting way played out.
Monstrous Beauty: This is my favorite cover change that I've seen in a LONG time. So gorgeous.Wish they would release this new version in hardcover.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

New Shelf Goodies & The Weekly Nutshell {38}

For New Shelf Goodies, I'll be showing you what lovely books I acquired this week, whether from publishers, or the library, or from whatever half-crazed book-buying binge I happened to go on. :D (Inspired by Alea @ Pop Culture Junkie's This Week in Books & Tynga's Stacking the Shelves) The Weekly Nutshell will be just week here at Stories & Sweeties, in a nutshell. (inspired by Ginger @ GReads and her recaps at the end of the TGIF posts)

Here's what I aquired this week!
 For review:
Spellcaster by Claudia Gray-finished copy (my review)
Linked by Imogen Howsen  
Requiem by Lauren Oliver-finished copy
Delirium Stories: Hana, Annabel, & Raven by Laren Oliver 

Super excited about Linked and to have a lovely finished copy of Requiem! I was pretty suprised to see Delirium Stories in print...for some reason I thought those stories were going to be ebook only.  Yay! :D

Many thanks to Simon  & Schuster and HarperTeen for these!

 The Weekly Nutshell:
{Friday} Becky's View: Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson
So I've decided to try out Intense Debate with CommentLuv and see how I like it on my own site. I love how it works on other's sites with being able to see the commenter's last post, but I'm not sure I've ever seen it work with blogger.  So here goes nothing!! Let me know what you think!
Have a great book-filled week, everyone! :D 

*Update* ok so apparently Intense Debate doesn't like me. LOL It was there one second and now it's not.  It seems to have lost some comments and for that I apologize! :( I reverted back to the blogger comment format. All better now!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Becky's View: Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson

Strands of Bronze and Gold
by Jane Nickerson
♦publisher: Knopf BYR
♦release date: March 12, 2013
♦hardcover, 352 pages
♦intended audience: Young adult
series: Strands of Bronze and Gold, book 1
♦source: ALA Midwinter
The Bluebeard fairy tale retold. . . .

When seventeen-year-old Sophia Petheram’s beloved father dies, she receives an unexpected letter. An invitation—on fine ivory paper, in bold black handwriting—from the mysterious Monsieur Bernard de Cressac, her godfather. With no money and fewer options, Sophie accepts, leaving her humble childhood home for the astonishingly lavish Wyndriven Abbey, in the heart of Mississippi.

Sophie has always longed for a comfortable life, and she finds herself both attracted to and shocked by the charm and easy manners of her overgenerous guardian. But as she begins to piece together the mystery of his past, it’s as if, thread by thread, a silken net is tightening around her. And as she gathers stories and catches whispers of his former wives—all with hair as red as her own—in the forgotten corners of the abbey, Sophie knows she’s trapped in the passion and danger of de Cressac’s intoxicating world.

Glowing strands of romance, mystery, and suspense are woven into this breathtaking debut—a thrilling retelling of the “Bluebeard” fairy tale.

Review: Strands of Bronze and Gold is a beautifully done retelling of the gothic fairy tale of Bluebeard.  Jane Nickerson does an amazing job writing in the classic style of fairy tales of old to give it the perfect tone and air of the mid 1800s.  It's like stepping back into a Brontë novel, but infinitely creepier.

This book is such an emotional read.  With it being a retelling, if you know the original story at all, you know exactly who the bad guy is, so you watching in horror as Sophia falls for his charm and exotic wit, all the while, your mind is screaming, "noooo!"  Then comes fear as she slowly realizes his true demeanor---his cruelty and madness literally seems to ooze out of his false facade, like a snake shedding skin.  Frustration set in when it becomes clear that because of the times and her situation, she truly is stuck.  There is also joy, as she finds a way to sneak in her moments alone in the woods and the happinesses she finds there.  Compassion takes over as her hopes are dashed that her family will save her, but they only manage to misunderstand everything and dig her deeper into danger.  And finally there is sheer terror as the terrible truth is revealed and Sophia must fight for her life. 

The spine-tingling moments of this story were my favorite part.  There were moments, one chapter ending in particular, that I literally had to pause and set the book down because my whole body was covered in chills.  There are ghostly encounters and a bit of gore, but I loved that despite all that, de Cressac was still the most terrifying threat to Sophia.

I loved how opinionated Sophia was about the ways of the world.  She had a good heart and an insatiable curiosity.  The story touches on the struggles of the slaves and the start of the Underground Railroad and ties the subject compellingly into the storyline.

A really wonderful debut and a definite must-read for fans of fairy tale retellings like me! 

From what I can tell, the following books in the series will be set in the same world, but possibly with different characters. I thought Sophia's story was very satisfyingly concluded, so I can't see it continuing wit her.  This is definitely a series I will be sticking with, though!

Find Jane Nickerson online: Website  •  Twitter  •   Facebook

Purchase Strands of Bronze and Gold:  Amazon  •  •  BookDepository  •  Indiebound

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Amy's View: The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett

The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett
♦publisher: Tor Teen
♦release date: March 5th, 2013
♦hardcover, 367 pages
♦intended audience: Young adult
♦series: The Arkwell Academy, book #1
♦source: from publisher for honest review
Sixteen-year-old Dusty Everhart breaks into houses late at night, but not because she’s a criminal. No, she’s a Nightmare.


Being the only Nightmare at Arkwell Academy, a boarding school for magickind, and living in the shadow of her mother’s infamy, is hard enough. But when Dusty sneaks into Eli Booker’s house, things get a whole lot more complicated. He’s hot, which means sitting on his chest and invading his dreams couldn’t get much more embarrassing. But it does. Eli is dreaming of a murder.

Then Eli’s dream comes true.

Now Dusty has to follow the clues—both within Eli’s dreams and out of them—to stop the killer before more people turn up dead. And before the killer learns what she’s up to and marks her as the next target.

Review: A sweet whimsical ride of nightmare proportions. This book is a light hearted read that spins you on a magical chase.

Dusty is a nightmare. Literally! Born of half human and half nightmare, Dusty lives the life as an outcast. Not completely human and able to live among humans and not all demon, which isn’t the hierarchy of magic kind anyways. Dusty remains trapped in the in between of not quite fitting in.

Being new to the magical world and unaccepted by her peers, life at Arkwell Academy boarding school for magic kind, is worse than any nightmare. If not having a place to fit in at a boarding school is bad enough, dream feeding on humans is enough to completely mortify her.  Breaking and entering, wearing all black and sitting on a boy’s chest’s to invade his dreams, is killing her chance to ever fit in. Not to mention her lack of learning spells, causing mere accidents of singing hair and turning the most popular girl into a snake. 

Being a nightmare is all drawbacks. From needing to feed on dreams to survive to living in the shadows of her mother, the most notorious evil nightmare alive. Just when she thinks she might be figuring out how to be a nightmare everything goes terribly wrong. All Dusty had to do was climb in the window of handsome and totally sexy human boy, sit on his chest and invade his dreams. When that boy turns out to be Eli, a boy she knows, Dusty’s life takes a drastic turn for the worse. When he wakes up to find her sitting on his chest in the middle of the night, all she wants to do is die from embarrassment.  That however isn’t the most disturbing part. Eli was dreaming of a murder at Arkwell Academy, a place no human knows about.  Spinning Dusty’s world into a tailspin, as she is forced to team up with Eli as a dream-seer pair and use her dream invading skills to solve the murder.  

This books dabbles in all types of magical beings giving them new meaning and life, from fairies to sirens, to hags and demons. All set up in their own classes and social structures. While the story was fun and easy it was also heavy laden with many characters, leaving the plot to drag on at times.

If you loved the Harry Potters series this story weaves a tale that is similar to its likeness. A great stepping stone into the world of young adult books, appropriate for younger readers while being entertaining for older readers alike.
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