Thursday, March 30, 2017

Poison's Kiss by Breeana Shields {guest review}

Poison's Kiss
by Breeana Shields
♦publisher: Random House BYR
♦release date: January 10th, 2017
♦hardcover, 304 pages
♦intended audience: Young adult
♦series: Poison's Kiss, book 1
♦source: from publisher for honest review
♦reviewed by: Amy

Marinda has kissed dozens of boys. They all die afterward. It's a miserable life, but being a visha kanya, a poison maiden, is what she was created to do. Marinda serves the Raja by dispatching his enemies with only her lips as a weapon.

Until now, the men she was ordered to kiss have been strangers, enemies of the kingdom. Then she receives orders to kiss Deven, a boy she knows too well to be convinced he needs to die. She begins to question who she s really working for. And that is a thread that, once pulled, will unravel more than she can afford to lose.

Review: Marinda is a lethal weapon and one kiss from her, is the last kiss you will ever have.

For Marinda, kissing and killing is the only life she has ever known. From childhood she was raised at the hand of cruel caretakers with ulterior motives; who trained and poisoned her until her kiss was poisonous enough to make her a visha kanya. Bound to serve the Raja, she must kill anyone who betrays the kingdom with her venomous kiss. To them she is merely a creation to do their bidding, leaving scars not even her sari can hide. 

Lucky for Marinda, every man she’s killed has been a stranger, until she meets Deven; the charming, attentive boy at bookstore. And for the first time, Marinda can dream about love’s first kiss, if only it wasn’t deadly. Now, Miranda is left with a choice; follow through with her appointed duty, or risk betraying her kingdom to save the one she loves. 

Caught between love, war, duty and family, Marinda is suddenly left questioning the one reason she was put on earth. Pondering if her caretakers are really who they claim to be, leaving her with the ultimate question of staying loyal to those who may be traitors, or watch it all fall for love.

Breena Shields captures the allure of Indian folklore in her thrilling debut, Poison’s Kiss. With treachery and love mixed in with surprising twists and turns, this book has everything you need for a riveting page-turner. Filled with exciting adventure, readers could be left with the desire for more detail to carry out the richness of the scenes, the settings, and the characters. Yet, the great fantasy elements and story building carries readers quickly through to the end.

With intense scenes and impressive writing, Breena Shield’s truly unique storyline gives this book strength and presence, while weaving in conflicts between right and wrong with deception and truth. Smooth as a serpent’s tongue, this remarkable tale will catch you unaware while leaving you anxiously waiting for the next book in the series. 


Breeana graduated from Brigham Young University with a BA in English. When she’s not reading or writing, she loves traveling, eating good food–especially if it’s pasta or chocolate–and spending time with her husband, her three children and an extremely spoiled miniature poodle.

Purchase the book:  Indiebound  •  BookDepository  •  Amazon

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

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.

hitting shelves October 3rd, 2017
from Dutton Books for Young Readers
Set in a near-future world where the British Empire never fell and the United States never rose, That Inevitable Victorian Thing is a novel of love, duty, and the small moments that can change people and the world.

Victoria-Margaret is the crown princess of the empire, a direct descendant of Victoria I, the queen who changed the course of history two centuries earlier. The imperial practice of genetically arranged matchmaking will soon guide Margaret into a politically advantageous marriage like her mother before her, but before she does her duty, she'll have one summer incognito in a far corner of empire. In Toronto, she meets Helena Marcus, daughter of one of the empire's greatest placement geneticists, and August Callaghan, the heir apparent to a powerful shipping firm currently besieged by American pirates. In a summer of high-society debutante balls, politically charged tea parties, and romantic country dances, Margaret, Helena, and August discover they share an unusual bond and maybe a one in a million chance to have what they want and to change the world in the process —just like the first Queen Victoria.

My thoughts:  This sounds so full of friendships and rebellion and Victorian charm ♥. I can't wait to fall into this world.  I am also in love with this cover. It makes me wish they would print it as a Victorian-style leatherbound book with the pretty foil accents and gold foil page edges. Pretty please??   

What book are you eagerly anticipating this week?

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Beast Is An Animal by Peternelle van Arsdale {review}

The Beast Is An Animal 
by Peternelle van Arsdale
♦publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
♦release date: February 28th, 2017
♦hardcover, 352 pages
♦intended audience: Young adult
♦source: from publisher for honest review
Alys was seven the first time she saw the soul eaters. Twin sisters, they radiated an energy that excited Alys. Through them she felt the wildness of the forest, and The Beast within it. Too late, she learned of their power to destroy.

By the time she is fifteen, Alys knows too much about both the lure and the danger of the soul eaters. She lives in a world of adults who are terrified of their power, and who cower behind high walls and grim rules. Fear of the soul eaters—and of The Beast—rules their lives. Even more, they fear the ways in which The Beast may lurk among them—and within a girl like Alys.

For Alys has a connection to the soul eaters, and The Beast. And she hides a truth about herself that she can reveal to no one, for fear she will be called a witch. As the threat posed by the soul eaters grows, Alys must undertake a journey through the wild danger of the fforest. But the greatest danger is not outside her. Alys’s secret about who—and what—she is terrifies her most of all. And in order to save her world, she must also risk losing herself.

Review: I'm not even sure how to begin to explain this incredibly bizarre book. In a quiet moment at work, I pulled up the Amazon preview of The Beast is an Animal, and from page one I was completely drawn in. I went straight home and grabbed it off my shelf and read for hours. The writing was spine-tingling and eerily atmospheric. I zoomed through the first 2/3s, but in that last third, the pacing slows a bit as it creeps towards an increasingly bizarre ending.

From beginning to end, this feels like a dark and twisted fairy tale. It begins telling how the soul eaters came to be and how they came to attack the village where Alys lived. Alys is 7 when we meet her and from the beginning, we see she has a strange and special connection with both the soul eaters and the beast. As she grows, it starts to upset and consumer her more and more, but she also comes to understand it more. There's a huge cast of interesting characters that come in and out of Alys's life, but my favorites were Paul and Mother and Father (her adopted parents. There's a tiny bit of love story, which was sweet and downplayed, and its her love for Cian and the other important people in her life that saves Alys from completely losing herself.

It's hard to pinpoint what it all meant, or how it will be interpreted by different readers. It won't be for everyone, this much I know. I found myself completely intrigued, even when the pacing slowed a bit and it went from weird to weirder (even for my tastes lol)--Alys's journey was just one I found fascinating. As best as I can say, The Beast is an Animal is about good and evil and how claiming to be good and righteous doesn't always make it so---and inversely, how believing something is bad also doesn't make it so. It's how pain can drive anyone to lose themselves if they're not careful. It's about the good and bad in everything and the need for balance...and for love.  I think. ;)  This was definitely a unique one that I'm sure will leave readers with that "what just happened??" feeling---but definitely worth venturing into to see if you find it as alluring and bizarrely beautiful as I did.   


Peternelle van Arsdale is a book editor who never thought she'd write a book. She lives in New York City, where she is at work on her second novel. 


Purchase the book:   
Indiebound   •   BookDepository   •   Amazon

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

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.

hitting shelves September 5th, 2017
from GP Putnam's Sons BYR
Ever since Esther Solar's grandfather was cursed by Death, everyone in her family has been doomed to suffer one great fear in their lifetime. Esther's father is agoraphobic and hasn't left the basement in six years, her twin brother can't be in the dark without a light on, and her mother is terrified of bad luck.

The Solars are consumed by their fears and, according to the legend of the curse, destined to die from them. 

Esther doesn't know what her great fear is yet (nor does she want to), a feat achieved by avoiding pretty much everything. Elevators, small spaces, and crowds are all off-limits. So are haircuts, spiders, dolls, mirrors and three dozen other phobias she keeps a record of in her semi-definitive list of worst nightmares. 

Then Esther is pickpocketed by Jonah Smallwood, an old elementary school classmate. Along with her phone, money and a fruit roll-up she d been saving, Jonah also steals her list of fears. Despite the theft, Esther and Jonah become friends, and he sets a challenge for them: in an effort to break the curse that has crippled her family, they will meet every Sunday of senior year to work their way through the list, facing one terrifying fear at a time, including one that Esther hadn't counted on: love.

My thoughts:  This sounds so quirky and fun...I'm looking forward to meeting this bizarre cursed family, and seeing Esther face down her list of fears!  

What book are you eagerly anticipating this week?

Sunday, March 19, 2017

New Shelf Goodies & The Weekly Nutshell {185}

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 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)

A very small, but mighty haul this week! :D
Look at this gorgeous thing! :D I was such a huge fan of Mary Weber's debut fantasy series, Storm Siren, and I couldn't be more excited about this new sci-fi adventure!!  Thanks so much to Mary and Thomas Nelson Books for sending this copy my way!!

The Weekly Nutshell
So this week I featured a completely gorgeous upcoming fantasy titled An Enchantment of Ravens as my Waiting on Wednesday pick---the story sounds so fascinating and I only hope it is as beautiful as that cover! I also reviewed The Dragon's Price, a great fantasy with just a couple of issues for me, but still really enjoyable!   I started reading Dream Magic, the sequel to one of my favorite books of last year, Shadow Magic, and really enjoying it so far! So great to be back with these characters.  In the midst of that, I stumbled into starting The Beast is an Animal and was completely sucked into it. It's a story as bizarre as they come LOL---you'll hear more about my thoughts on this one this coming week. 

Life-wise, it was pretty mellow this week! Hope that continues! Did anyone get a change to see Beauty and the Beast on it's first few days out?? What did you think? I'll see it soon, I can't stand to sit in really crowded theatres so I'll be waiting a few weeks.  But I hope it's wonderful! :D 

Sending warm thoughts to those still braving the ice and snow on the east coast!  
Happy & cozy reading, everyone!  

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Dragon's Price by Bethany Wiggins {review}

The Dragon's Price
by Bethany Wiggins
♦publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
♦release date: February 21st, 2017
♦hardcover, 304 pages
♦intended audience: Young adult
♦series: Transference, book 1
♦source: from publisher for honest review
When two warring kingdoms unified against a deadly menace laying waste to both their lands, they had to make a choice: vow to marry their heirs to one another, or forfeit their lives to the dragon.

Centuries later, everyone expects the sheltered princess Sorrowlynn to choose the barbarian prince over the fire-breathing beast—everyone, that is, except Sorrow, who is determined to control her own destiny or die trying.

As she is lowered into the dragon’s chamber, she assumes her life is over until Golmarr, the young prince she just spurned, follows her with the hopes of being her hero and slaying the dragon. But the dragon has a different plan. . . .

If the dragon wins, it will be freed from the spell that has bound it to the cave for centuries. If Sorrow or Golmarr vanquish the dragon, the victor will gain its treasure and escape the cave beneath the mountain. But what exactly is the dragon hiding?

There are no safe havens for Sorrow or Golmarr—not even with each other—and the stakes couldn’t be higher as they risk everything to protect their kingdom.

Review: The Dragon's Price was one I really enjoyed, despite turning out to be a completely different story than I expected! It was pretty fast-paced (though there was a bit of falter in the middle), imaginative, and a fun twist on heroism.  

Because of an age-old spell over their two kingdoms, Princess Sorrowlynn must make a choice between an arranged marriage to what she assumes is a barbarian prince or being fed to the fire dragon. After meeting her supposed betrothed (and his first wife) she sets her mind to facing death in the dragon's lair.  What she doesn't realize is that the kinder, more charming son, Golmarr, has plans to step in, but by the time he makes it known, it's too late and her choice has been made.  So down to the dragon she goes...and down he goes after her. 

I really enjoyed these two characters, and how they interacted. They definitely had a funny sort of chemistry going on from the beginning and I loved watching that grow, watching them each dispel misconceptions about each other's kingdoms, and watching as Sorrow hilariously tries to cling to her royal ideals of modesty.  I felt so much compassion for Sorrow and how she was treated so poorly by the King and Queen and it was really satisfying to see her go on this journey, growing in confidence and bravery.  

There were some great twists. I was initially expecting to see a story where the dragon was more physically involved, but it was an interesting twist and concept that makes the reader realize what the Dragon's Price truly was and what challenges it meant for Sorrow and Golmarr. 

While the storytelling was great and the world was vividly crafted, there were times when I found the writing and mostly the dialogue seemed a little off to me...maybe a little too simplified? And some of the descriptives a little too "telling not showing". Hard to explain, but it was almost like the casual style didn't fit the story at times. 

Aside from that, I was so enchanted by this wonderful fantasy and it's spin on dragon lore. The ending was so heartbreaking but hopeful, and I will be eager to get book two into my hands so I can find out what happens next!!


Bethany Wiggins is the author of Stung and Shifting. She started writing on a dare and dove headfirst into the world of writerly madness. She lives in the desert with her husband, four quirky kids, and two very fluffy cats. Wiggins has always been an avid reader, but not an avid student. Seriously! She failed ninth grade English because she read novels instead of doing her homework. In high school, she sat alone at lunch and read massive hardback fantasy novels (Tad Williams and Robert Jordan anyone?). It wasn’t until the end of her senior year that the other students realized she was reading fiction. Since then she has penned SHIFTING (2011), STUNG (2013), and CURED (2014).


Purchase the book:   Indiebound   •   BookDepository   •   Amazon

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

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.
by Margaret Rogerson

hitting shelves September 26th, 2017
from Margaret K. McElderry Books
Isobel is a prodigy portrait artist with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread, weave cloth, or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and Isobel’s paintings are highly prized among them. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes – a weakness that could cost him his life.

Furious and devastated, Rook spirits her away to the autumnlands to stand trial for her crime. Waylaid by the Wild Hunt’s ghostly hounds, the tainted influence of the Alder King, and hideous monsters risen from barrow mounds, Isobel and Rook depend on one another for survival. Their alliance blossoms into trust, then love, violating the fair folks’ ruthless Good Law. To save both their lives, Isobel must drink from the Green Well, whose water will transform her into a fair one—at the cost of her Craft, for immortality is as stagnant as it is timeless.

Isobel has a choice: she can sacrifice her art for a future, or arm herself with paint and canvas against the ancient power of the fairy courts. Because secretly, her Craft represents a threat the fair folk have never faced in all the millennia of their unchanging lives: for the first time, her portraits have the power to make them feel.

My thoughts:  The Faerie court and it's wicked twisted ways is always something that has drawn me in. This cover is a gorgeous illustration and I love it. The title, so pretty.  I love the "creativity as power" idea.  Everything (barring that very last line of the synopsis, which just went a little  cheesy for me LOL), the characters, the world, the magic---all sound pretty awesome! :)

What book are you eagerly anticipating this week?

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Well, That Was Awkward by Rachel Vail {blog tour spotlight + giveaway}

Hey all. Um, hi. Today, this really cool book tour is stopping by Stories & Sweeties. I'll try not to be too awkward about it, but, you know. That's just me sometimes. :) 

Here's more about the book..:

Well, That Was Awkward
by Rachel Vail
♦publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
♦release date: February 28th, 2017
♦hardcover, 320 pages
♦intended audience: Young adult
Gracie has never felt like this before. One day, she suddenly can't breathe, can't walk, can't anything and the reason is standing right there in front of her, all tall and weirdly good-looking: A.J.
It turns out A.J. likes not Gracie but Gracie's beautiful best friend, Sienna. Obviously Gracie is happy for Sienna. Super happy! She helps Sienna compose the best texts, responding to A.J. s surprisingly funny and appealing texts, just as if she were Sienna. Because Gracie is fine. Always! She's had lots of practice being the sidekick, second-best.
It s all good. Well, almost all. She's trying.

...and, now here's more about the author..:

Rachel Vail is the award-winning author of more than 30 books for young people. As a theater lover, Rachel sees and reads as many plays as she can. Well, That Was Awkward was in part inspired by her love of the play Cyrano – another tale of secrets, wit, self-confidence, self-loathing, friendship, identity-hiding, and romance that blossoms between all the wrong people. Or does it? 

Rachel lives in New York City with her husband, their two sons, and (like Gracie) a tortoise named Lightning.

Website  •  Twitter  •  Goodreads 

Purchase the book:  Indiebound  •  BookDepository  •  Amazon 

...and lastly, here's how you can get your hands on one:
a Rafflecopter giveaway
US mailing addresses only. Sorry 😔

Okay, not lastly. One more thing. Here's the rest of the tour stops. Please stop by them all. 😏 

Week One
2/27 – Here’s to Happy Endings – Bookish Recipe
2/28 – YA Book Central – Excerpt
3/1 – Margie’s Must Reads – Author Guest Post
3/2 – Crafty Moms Share – Review
3/3 – Once Upon a Twilight – Guest Post
Week Two
3/6 – The Reading Nook Reviews – Author Guest Post
3/7 – ButterMyBooks – Quote Graphics
3/8 – Stories & Sweeties – Spotlight
3/9 – Brittany’s Book Rambles – Author Guest Post
3/10 – My Friends Are Fiction – Spotlight

Um. Okay bye.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

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.
hitting shelves August 8th, 2017
from Amulet Books
The struggle to get into a top-tier college consumes sixteen-year-old Genie’s every waking thought. But when she discovers she’s a celestial spirit who’s powerful enough to bash through the gates of heaven with her fists, her perfectionist existence is shattered.

Enter Quentin, a transfer student from China whose tone-deaf assertiveness beguiles Genie to the brink of madness. Quentin nurtures Genie’s bodacious transformation—sometimes gently, sometimes aggressively—as her sleepy suburb in the Bay Area comes under siege from hell-spawn.

This epic YA debut draws from Chinese folklore, features a larger-than-life heroine, and perfectly balances the realities of Genie’s grounded high school life with the absurd supernatural world she finds herself commanding.

My thoughts:  Is it me, or does this sounds so epically FUN!! I'm getting some definitely Scott Pilgrim vibes from the cover and synopsis and I love that.  Excited for the asian folklore and culture, and even more excited that this all takes place on my home turf! (well, just down the road LOL.)  

What book are you eagerly anticipating this week?

Monday, March 6, 2017

Garden of Thorns by Amber Mitchell: Meet the Characters + Giveaway!

For all my fantasy loving friends, I have a special treat today! I'm super excited to be hosting debut author, Amber Mitchell. She's stopped by for a guest post to introduce a few of the characters in her new book, THE GARDEN OF THORNS. 

Welcome, Amber! 


After seven grueling years of captivity in the Garden—a burlesque troupe of slave girls—sixteen-year-old Rose finds an opportunity to escape during a performance for the emperor. But the hostage she randomly chose from the crowd to aid her isn’t one of the emperor’s men—not anymore. He’s the former heir to the throne, who is now leading a rebellion against it.

Rayce is a wanted man and dangerously charismatic, the worst person for Rose to get involved with, no matter what his smile promises. But he assumes Rose’s attempt to take him hostage is part of a plot to crush the rebellion, so he takes her as his hostage. Now Rose must prove where her loyalties lie, and she offers Rayce a deal—if he helps her rescue the other girls, she’ll tell him all the Garden’s secrets.

Except the one secret she’s kept for seven years that she’ll take to her grave if she must.

*       *        *        *        *

Thank you so much for having me on your blog! Today, I wanted to introduce 6 characters from my debut YA fantasy novel GARDEN OF THORNS and dive into their goals, fears and a few interesting facts. I hope you’ll enjoy learning about them as much as I enjoyed creating them!

source: unknown 
Fondest Wishes: To free the other dancing Flowers from their captivity in the Garden, to take vengeance on the Gardener and to escape without revealing her secret that might jeopardize everything she is working for.

Hobbies: Aerial dancing, reading, snooping and pretending she doesn’t care what others think of her

Fears: Hurting others because of her actions, not being strong enough to face her former captor and relying on others to help her reach her goals.

Rayce Sun
Fondest Wishes: To liberate the land he loves from out under the tyrannical rule of his uncle, to keep as many people as he can safe and to finally figure out his mother’s honey crisp cookie recipe.

Hobbies: Cooking, helping people, studying maps and war strategies, sword fighting and finding out what make people tick.

Fears: Allowing the power he retains as rebel leader to go to his head and turning him into another version of the Emperor, failing those he is leading and letting down his mentor, Oren.

Arlo Shing
Fondest Wish: To keep his sister safe, at any cost, and to aid Rayce as he leads the Zareeni rebellion.

Marin Shing
source: unknown
Fondest Wish: To help the rebellion create a world where everyone gets a voice and to befriend Rose since she looks like she needs a friend, desperately.

Emperor Sun
Fondest Wish: To keep his land in complete order. People are like insects, after all. They must be led or crushed. There is no in between.

The Gardener
source: unknown
Fondest Wish: For the Garden, his traveling burlesque show, to have a permanent residence in the Imperial City…but that would mean getting the emperor to sanction it and for that, he’ll need to trade something very dear. Perhaps the secrets of a pretty little Flower?

Now you’ve gotten to meet a few of the characters of GARDEN OF THORNS and find out what makes them tick. I hope you’ll get know them better between the pages of the book!

*       *        *        *        *


Amber Mitchell graduated from the University of South Florida with a BA in Creative Writing. She likes crazy hair styles, reading, D&D, k-dramas, good puns and great food.

When she isn’t putting words on paper, she is using cardstock to craft 3D artwork or exploring new places with her husband Brian. They live a small town in Florida with their four cats where she is still waiting for a madman in a blue box to show up on her doorstep.

Garden of Thorns is her debut novel from Entangled Teen.

Website  •  Twitter  •  Instagram  •  Goodreads

Purchase the book:  Indiebound  •  BookDepository  •  Amazon


So Amber and I have teamed up to give away a few copies of Garden of Thorns and some fun swag! Enter below! 
•open internationally
•must be 13 or over
•Ends March 20th, 2017
(ebook and signed swag will arrive seperately)

a Rafflecopter giveaway