Friday, April 29, 2016

Friday Flourish: Another Sneak Peek!

Happy Friday Everyone!

A few months back I featured a fun little teaser with small snippets of recent designs, and since it seemed to go over well I thought I'd go ahead and share another one!

As you guys have noticed by now, I've had to scale back a bit with the blog, taking Monday's off and calling in reinforcements in the form of my family to help me keep up with reviews. *sigh* Work has really taken off since January of this year which is hugely exciting, but it has definitely limited my reading time. I've also found that even when I do have time to read, I'm just not as motivated as I once was. Part of it is the fact that my work and this blog are now linked in that they're both book-related, so even though I absolutely LOVE my job and this blog, when I get time off, I want that time completely off from anything involving books. Also, Netflix has clutched me to its evil bosom and will not let me go until I've watched ALL THE THINGS. *wanders off to binge watch season 7 of The X Files*

I do love bringing my work life and blogging life together and sharing my covers on Fridays though, so I hope you guys won't mind me indulging in my shameless self-promotion once again:)

Artwork is hugely subjective, and it's always so interesting to me to see what kind of imagery or typography really jumps out at people, so please let me know in the comments which box most catches your eye. I hope to share all 6 of these in their entirety soon!

You can check out more of my cover design work at Seedlings Design Studio 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Traitor Angels Blog Tour: Review + Giveaway!

Anne Blankman
Young Adult/Historical
400 pages
Balzer + Bray
Available May 3rd
Source: ARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Six years have passed since England’s King Charles II returned from exile to reclaim the throne, ushering in a new era of stability for his subjects.

Except for Elizabeth Milton. The daughter of notorious poet John Milton, Elizabeth has never known her place in this shifting world—except by her father’s side. By day she helps transcribe his latest masterpiece, the epic poem Paradise Lost, and by night she learns languages and sword fighting. Although she does not dare object, she suspects that he’s training her for a mission whose purpose she cannot fathom.

Until one night the reason becomes clear: the king’s man arrive at her family’s country home to arrest her father. Determined to save him, Elizabeth follows his one cryptic clue and journeys to Oxford, accompanied by her father’s mysterious young houseguest, Antonio Vivani, a darkly handsome Italian scientist who surprises her at every turn. Funny, brilliant, and passionate, Antonio seems just as determined to protect her father as she is—but can she trust him with her heart?

When the two discover that Milton has planted an explosive secret in the half-finished Paradise Lost—a secret the king and his aristocratic supporters are desperate to conceal—Elizabeth is faced with a devastating choice: cling to the shelter of her old life or risk cracking the code, unleashing a secret that could save her father…and tear apart the very fabric of society.

Traitor Angels is a fast-paced, enthralling read, sending us on a merry chase alongside heroine Elizabeth as we follow the clues–key pieces of information that could topple monarchies and religions alike–her brilliant father left tucked in the pages of Paradise Lost.

Elizabeth is a young woman ahead of her time thanks to her father largely raising her as a boy, teaching her foreign languages and sword-fighting in addition to reading and writing, and cherry-picking her as one of a pair of individuals tasked with protecting a secret uncovered decades ago. She's incredibly intelligent and fiercely loyal to her father, but she thankfully doesn't have blinders on when it comes to him, and as events unfold, allows her opinion on various things to change instead of clinging stubbornly to all she thought was true. She does on occasion get defeated when she and Antonio hit a roadblock in the Paradise Lost treasure hunt, despairing of her failure to save her father, but she only wallows for brief moments before she snaps herself out of it and restores her resolve.

Her romance with Antonio, while secondary to the epic search for a world-altering secret, is prominent enough to give us butterflies in between action sequences, bringing a smile to our faces before we're plunged once again into danger. The two of them together are a formidable couple, playing off each other's strengths to uncover the complex series of clues left by Mr. Milton, and we can do nothing but flip the pages with unprecedented speed to see what awaits them in the next chapter.

Overall, Traitor Angels will delight lovers of adventure, history and romance, guaranteeing its spot on many a shelf of favorites.

Rating: 4/5

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 


Anne Blankman may have been meant to be a writer because her parents named her for Anne of Green Gables. She grew up in an old house with gables (gray, unfortunately) in upstate New York. When she wasn't writing or reading, she was rowing on the crew team, taking ballet lessons, fencing and swimming. She graduated from Union College with degrees in English and history, which comes in handy when she writes historical fiction.

After earning a master's degree in information science, Anne began working as a youth services librarian. Currently, she lives in southeastern Virginia with her family. When she's not writing young adult fiction, she's playing with her daughter, training for races with her husband, working at her amazing library branch, learning to knit (badly), and reading.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 


Up for grabs today are 3 finished copies of Traitor Angels! To enter, please fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Giveaway is open to US addresses only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway



Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: Wintersong

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking The Spine and is a fun way to see what books other bloggers just can't wait to get their hands on!

S. Jae-Jones
YA Fantasy
Releases February 2017 from Thomas Dunne (Macmillan)

From Goodreads:

Beware the goblin men and the wares they sell.

All her life, nineteen-year-old Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, mysterious Goblin King. He is the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground, and the muse around which her music is composed. Yet, as Liesl helps shoulder the burden of running her family’s inn, her dreams of composition and childish fancies about the Goblin King must be set aside in favor of more practical concerns.

But when her sister Käthe is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue her sister and return her to the world above. The Goblin King agrees to let Käthe go—for a price. The life of a maiden must be given to the land, in accordance with the old laws. A life for a life, he says. Without sacrifice, nothing good can grow. Without death, there can be no rebirth. In exchange for her sister’s freedom, Liesl offers her hand in marriage to the Goblin King. He accepts.

Down in the Underground, Liesl discovers that the Goblin King still inspires her—musically, physically, emotionally. Yet even as her talent blossoms, Liesl’s life is slowly fading away, the price she paid for becoming the Goblin King’s bride. As the two of them grow closer, they must learn just what it is they are each willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world.

Um. A huge YES to everything about this one. Ever since I read and fell madly in love with Danielle Jensen's portrayal of trolls in Stolen Songbird, I've longed for more trolls, and Wintersong seems like it's going to deliver them to me in spectacular fashion. 

The romance sounds like it's going to be amazing, I love a setup like this where a relationship starts out as a transaction of sorts and then ever-so-slowly becomes love in truth. I'm not sure if this is going to be a series yet or not, but I've got all my fingers crossed that this will end well and Liesl will get an HEA with her Goblin King:)


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Pam Reviews: Dragon Bound

It's a family affair on the blog of late! I always share books I love with my mom and mother-in-law, but my mom especially is a romance lover like me, so I always send my smutty favorites her way. She fell madly in love with one of my very favorite series, and is here today to share her thoughts on book one, Dragon Bound! *high five Mom*

Elder Races #1
Thea Harrison
Paranormal Romance
312 pages
Berkley Sensation
Available Now
Source: Bought!

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Half-human and half-Wyr, Pia Giovanni spent her life keeping a low profile among the Wyrkind and avoiding the continuing conflict between them and their Dark Fae enemies. But after being blackmailed into stealing a coin from the hoard of a dragon, Pia finds herself targeted by one of the most powerful—and passionate—of the Elder Races.

As the most feared and respected of the Wyrkind, Dragos Cuelebre cannot believe someone had the audacity to steal from him, much less succeed. And when he catches the thief, Dragos spares her life, claiming her as his own to further explore the desire they've ignited in each other.

Pia knows she must repay Dragos for her trespass, but refuses to become his slave—although she cannot deny wanting him, body and soul.

As most are aware, Dragon Bound is the first book of the Elder Races series written by the talented author, Thea Harrison. I know, I know it was written years ago, but it remains my all-time favorite go-to book when I reach for a reread that I truly loved. It let’s me escape for awhile to enjoy an amazing world with unforgettable characters that evoke a myriad of wonderful feelings. So when asked to write a review of a personal favorite in the paranormal genre, this was instantly chosen. 

The extreme popularity of Dragon Bound bespeaks of Harrison’s exceptional “gift of the written word” and is readily apparent in every component of the book: humorous and witty dialogue, non-stop action that is riveting at times, a plot with twists and turns that keeps the reader turning the pages, and world building that is creative, unique and uncomplicated. But she excels at character development and relationship building, and that sooo does it for me in any book.

Pia and Dragos. Did I mention unforgettable characters? They’re, simply put, magical, literally and figuratively. Dragos is the arrogant, controlling, incredibly powerful, strong-willed hero who demands total obedience and loyalty from all in his Wyr realm. And then there’s Pia, a no mess heroine, who is equally strong-willed, but with a soft, warm heart that melts the Great Beast with understanding, patience and eventually love. This constant push and pull in their relationship and the growth and change in both characters is fascinating and keeps me emotionally engaged. And culminates into a romance that’s as intense as it is entertaining.

The secondary characters are equally addictive. Who can forget the dynamic and petite faerie, Tricks, the skeptical Rune and the tender-hearted Graydon to name but a few. Their development was well constructed throughout, never overshadowing the main characters or detracting from the story. Not surprisingly, these characters now sport their own books.

And yep, with the l-o-n-g Michigan winters I experience, be assured I’ll grab this off my shelf to reread again. I repeat, I truly loved this book – it’s a fun and very good read.

Rating: 5/5 (of course!)

Find Thea:

Friday, April 22, 2016

Friday Flourish: The Illuminator's Gift

Happy Friday Everyone!

Today I'm sharing the cover for The Illuminator's Gift, the first book in a middle grade fantasy series by Alina Sayre. As you guys already know, fantasy is my very favorite genre to read, but it has also quickly become one of my very favorite genres to design as well since the sky is the limit creativity-wise. While I thoroughly enjoy the challenges each new project presents regardless of genre, fantasy tends to let my imagination run a little more wild than most, and I always have the best time trying to figure out how to bring a story's magical elements to life.

With illustrated covers, my design style tends to be more stylized, with the imagery existing as flat shapes, large planes of color, and lots of texture rather than realistic, painterly or true to life. My initial idea boards for Alina went in my more typical stylized direction, with the sea, sky and flying ship focal points she wanted highlighted shown with clean, crisp lines and clearly defined shapes. After reviewing the boards, Alina asked if we could change the feel of the imagery, taking the illustrations in a more realistic direction and softening the edges overall–a style that wasn't quite as familiar to me.

Having to step outside my design comfort zone is part of what makes this job so much fun though, and by the time I finished putting the initial comp of The Illuminator's Gift together I had learned a variety of new tricks, something that never fails to make me happy. After a few tweaks to the title font and accompanying flourishes, we had our final cover where sea meets sky and the Legend emerges from a wisp of cloud as she flies through the air.

Alina and I are currently working on the covers for books two and three, so stay tuned for those in the coming months!

Ellie is a twelve-year-old orphan who desperately wants a family. She just doesn’t expect to find one when she joins the crew of the Legend, a flying ship in a secret rescue fleet. On board, she meets a boy with a pet tarantula, a bully with eyes like mirrors, and a librarian who can read eighteen languages. Unexpectedly, Ellie also discovers a powerful gift that only she can wield. But when the Legend is called to a dangerous rescue mission, Ellie risks losing everyone she loves. Will her mysterious gift be enough to save her and her friends from a deadly enemy bent on destroying their world?
Find Alina & The Illuminator's Gift:
You can check out more of my cover design work at Seedlings Design Studio 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Review: Love, Lies and Spies

Cindy Anstey
YA Historical Romance
368 pages
Swoon Reads
Available Now
Source: ARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Juliana Telford is not your average nineteenth-century young lady. She’s much more interested in researching ladybugs than marriage, fashionable dresses, or dances. So when her father sends her to London for a season, she’s determined not to form any attachments. Instead, she plans to secretly publish their research.

Spencer Northam is not the average young gentleman of leisure he appears. He is actually a spy for the War Office, and is more focused on acing his first mission than meeting eligible ladies. Fortunately, Juliana feels the same, and they agree to pretend to fall for each other. Spencer can finally focus, until he is tasked with observing Juliana’s traveling companions . . . and Juliana herself.

Love, Lies and Spies is a sweet young adult historical romance, giving us a heroine more interested in insect research and publishing her findings than in the matrimonial games played by the Ton, and a dashing young hero who makes us swoon in the way only a gentleman in the time of strict courtship can.

Juliana is easy to love from the moment she steps on page and promptly falls off a cliff, denying an offer of help from Spencer in order to keep her reputation-conscious aunt from falling over in a dead faint. She's accident prone in an adorably oblivious way, stumbling into situations difficult for her to see her way out of gracefully, and we can't help but smile as she eschews polite society in favor of beating to her own drum. While she does on occasion need rescuing, she proves time and again that she's quite capable of handling herself when necessary–batting away the wandering hands of inappropriate suitors and staying true to her passion for scientific research even when everyone around her is only focused on making an advantageous romantic match.

Spencer is a charming smooth-talker, easily able to banter with Juliana and sooth any feathers that are ruffled as he weaves his tall tales in order to continue his undercover work. Though he has a way with words, he never comes across as disingenuous, and he easily earns our affections as he does Juliana's. Their romance is of the slow burn variety (though they do admit their feelings for one another to themselves relatively quickly) thanks to the rules governing social interactions in Society, and it's nothing short of smile-inducing to watch the two of them literally and figuratively dance around one another.

The only mild complaint with this tale is with regard to the espionage plot that unfolds alongside Spencer and Juliana's courtship. We stay largely on the surface of the spying element, small things relating to uncovering a traitor popping up here and there, but we don't delve into that mystery as deeply as we could have. That being said however, Juliana and Spencer are hugely entertaining characters, and their romance is perfect for those looking for something to bring them a little joy on a dreary day.

Rating: 4/5

Find Cindy:

This book was sent to me by the publisher  free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: Empire of Dust

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking The Spine and is a fun way to see what books other bloggers just can't wait to get their hands on!

Blood of Gods & Royals #2
Eleanor Herman
YA Historical/Fantasy
Releases June 28th from Harlequin Teen

From Goodreads:
In Macedon, war rises like smoke, forbidden romance blooms and ancient magic tempered with rage threatens to turn an empire to dust

After winning his first battle, Prince Alexander fights to become the ruler his kingdom demands—but the line between leader and tyrant blurs with each new threat.

Meanwhile, Hephaestion, cast aside by Alexander for killing the wrong man, must conceal the devastating secret of a divine prophecy from Katerina even as the two of them are thrust together on a dangerous mission to Egypt.

The warrior, Jacob, determined to forget his first love, vows to eradicate the ancient Blood Magics and believes that royal prisoner Cynane holds the key to Macedon's undoing.

And in chains, the Persian princess Zofia still longs to find the Spirit Eaters, but first must grapple with the secrets of her handsome—and deadly—captor.

New York Times bestselling author Eleanor Herman entwines the real scandals of history with epic fantasy to reimagine the world's most brilliant ruler, Alexander the Great, in the second book of the Blood of Gods and Royals series.

I have a feeling this series is one that's best experienced in binge-reading fashion, so while I haven't yet read the first book, I'm still really looking forward to diving into this series as a whole. With the various POV's and the rich historical and fantasy elements, I know I'm going to want as little time as possible in between books to help me keep track of everything, so as soon as this bad boy is out in June I'm going to get my grabby hands on the first one and read them back to back.

Also, though I haven't met Zofia yet, I have to admit to being most intrigued by her plotline and the mention of this handsome and deadly captor. I feel either an antagonistic and/or forbidden romance coming on and I'm all for either of those!


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Cathy Reviews: A Little Something Different

My mother-in-law Cathy has really stepped up to help me with the blog these past few weeks, taking on a few more reviews than normal in order to give me some much-needed time to get caught up on some reading. A huge thank you to her for being my co-blogger lately!

Sandy Hall
Contemporary Young Adult
Swoon Reads/Macmillan
272 pages
Available Now
Source: ARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
The creative writing teacher, the delivery guy, the local Starbucks baristas, his best friend, her roommate, and the squirrel in the park all have one thing in common—they believe that Gabe and Lea should get together. Lea and Gabe are in the same creative writing class. They get the same pop culture references, order the same Chinese food, and hang out in the same places. Unfortunately, Lea is reserved, Gabe has issues, and despite their initial mutual crush, it looks like they are never going to work things out.

But somehow even when nothing is going on, something is happening between them, and everyone can see it. Their creative writing teacher pushes them together. The baristas at Starbucks watch their relationship like a TV show. Their bus driver tells his wife about them. The waitress at the diner automatically seats them together. Even the squirrel who lives on the college green believes in their relationship.

Surely Gabe and Lea will figure out that they are meant to be together....

A Little Something Different is a charming contemporary YA romance novel. We meet our two main characters, Gabe and Lea, in a creative writing class. We can see the potential for a budding romance, but unfortunately our love birds are too shy to act on their feelings. What makes this novel unique is that the story is told from fourteen different viewpoints, none of which belong to our main characters. They are truly the center of the story and have no idea that everyone else is talking about them. I found this to be a very clever idea. 

We hear about how this great love between Gabe and Lea should develop and grow from all those who come into contact with the couple. Some perspectives are a little funnier and wittier than others, and of course some are easier to relate to, but all of them together truly make for a little something different. Even the squirrel that shares a park bench with them chimes in from time to time!

While this is a quick read, I did find that so many perspectives tended to slow the pace of the plotline. That being said however, this is a book that is fun to pick up on a rainy afternoon or take to the beach. So add it to the list for just the right moment.

Rating: 3.5/5

Find Sandy:

This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is Cathy's honest opinion.

Friday, April 15, 2016

The Great Pit Bull Search of 2016 (Update!)

Happy Friday Everyone!

Most of you guys are aware by now that my husband and have been looking for a sibling for our pit bull Gracie for a while now, trying and failing a number of times to find the right fit for our girl. It's been a disappointing and frustrating few months, with no shortage of tears and guilt at having to tell hardworking rescues that the dog we met with just wasn't a good match for our family.

We got so far as a trial adoption with one particular sweet boy back in February, but while the initial meet and greet seemed really promising and he and Gracie hit it off, once he was actually in our home his play style with her became increasingly rough, to the point where she was covered in welts and limping after just 2 days. While he was in no way aggressive, the situation continued to deteriorate despite our attempts at correcting the behavior, and I had to call the rescue to put an end to the trial. I felt like the worst sort of person because he was a wonderful dog overall, but Gracie is my first priority and I couldn't have her getting hurt just because I wanted a second dog in the home. The rescue took him back, albeit not without an impressive guilt trip that made me feel akin to someone who takes their dying dog to the shelter because they don't want to pay the medical bills, and he's since been adopted which makes me happy.

Fast forward two months and we're giving the search another go. I promised my husband I would give us a little break after the trial adoption and at least wait until after I got back from BEA next month to look again, but I failed that promise in spectacular fashion when I came across Mya. Once I saw her adorable face, I knew I had to at least write the rescue and get more information to see if she was of a temperament that would suit Gracie, and if it would even make sense for us to try a meet and greet. The rescue responded right away, but unfortunately the news was disappointing because we'd just missed her. She'd gone home with a family the day before I got in touch, and though I was thrilled she'd found a home of her own, I was surprisingly devastated because I had the same instant reaction to her that I did to Gracie when I saw her picture online the first time. I had hoped she might finally be the dog we'd been trying to find. *sobs*

A week later, however, the rescue called to say Mya was coming back because she needs to have another dog in the home, and while the family she was with was fantastic, they had no other pets and Mya just wasn't happy without a friend. MEANT TO BE YOU GUYS!!! To wrap up this exceedingly long story, we're off to meet Miss Mya today with Gracie in tow, and I'm so hoping they're as perfect a fit in reality as they seem to be on paper. *fingers crossed* I'll keep you guys posted!

Isn't she adorable? Look at that pittie smile!


The meeting with Mya was fantastic! She's going to be joining our family next month when I get back from BEA. WOO HOO!

When we first arrived, the woman who's been fostering Mya for the better part of a year met us and told us to be prepared for her to be a bit wary of us, and that it would take her some time to warm up, especially to my husband. Mya had the great misfortune (as so many do) of being purchased by a dog fighter as a puppy, and when she wouldn't fight she was soundly beaten. As a result, she's very cautious around new people, and men in particular.

We walked in the yard with Gracie ready to let Mya run the meet and greet and come see us when she was ready, but to our great delight and the surprise of the foster mom, Mya bounded right over to me, gave me her paw to shake, and smothered me in kisses. It only took her a few minutes to do the same to Kevin, and for the next two hours she stayed largely by our sides.

Miss Gracie decided to turn into Dora the Explorer and was so fascinated by the foster mom's giant yard and all the new doggie smells that she couldn't concentrate on anything else. Mya was great with her though, and when Gracie showed little interest in playing in favor of smelling ALL THE THINGS, she backed right off and didn't push her the way the dogs we'd met with previously had. Gracie is an independent sort, but she's super playful too, and I know once Mya is here and Gracie isn't enamored of a new place, they'll be a great fit.

I'll be sure and do another post next month when we bring her home! A huge thank you to all of you for the encouraging comments, they meant the world:)

A pair of blue pitties!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Review: Bright Blaze of Magic

Black Blade #3
Jennifer Estep
Paranormal Young Adult
307 pages
Kensington Teen
Available April 26th
Source: ARC from author for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Bad Things Always Come In Threes…

As a thief, I'm good at three things: hiding in the shadows, getting in and out unseen, and uncovering secrets. I put these skills to work for the Sinclair Family, one of the magical mobs that run the tourist town of Cloudburst Falls.

Everyone knows Victor Draconi wants to take over all the other Families--and kill every last Sinclair. What they don't know is that I'm on to him, and no way will I let the man who murdered my mom get away with hurting all the other people I care about. Especially when I've got places to break into, stuff to steal, and Devon Sinclair fighting right by my side… 

Bright Blaze of Magic is a thrilling conclusion to the Black Blade trilogy, giving us non-stop action in the form of magic, monsters and sword fights to ensure we have to physically pry our hands from the pages when we've run out of reading time.

Lila is the same as she has been from the beginning in terms of her loyalty to those who matter most and her determination to keep them from harm, but she's also become more confident not only in her physical abilities since training with the Sinclair Family, but in herself as a person as well. With the Sinclairs she's found a true home, something she didn't even have with her late mother given how often they relocated, and having friends, family, and a sense of belonging has given her a newfound strength, something she of course needs in order to face down Victor Draconi when he finally makes his move against the rest of the Families.

While there's a little romance and a whole lot of heart to this series, Ms. Estep's books are always delightfully action-focused, and this final installment is the very definition of a page-turner. From beginning to end Lila and company are chased, attacked, and beaten down repeatedly, but though those moments are sometimes hard to bear, we read on with a sense of surety that comes from being longtime fans of Ms. Estep, knowing that good will ultimately triumph over evil in spectacular fashion. As expected, the final showdown between Lila and Victor is more than worthy of a final installment, with the battle just dire enough to keep us on our toes even though we know she'll ultimately prevail.

Overall, the Black Blade series is highly recommended, full to bursting with fun characters who makes us feel a part of their world for the all-too brief moments we get to spend with them, and hugely entertaining from first book to last.

Rating: 4.5/5

Find Jennifer:
This book was sent to me by the author  free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: A Shadow Bright and Burning

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking The Spine and is a fun way to see what books other bloggers just can't wait to get their hands on!

Kingdom on Fire #1
Jessica Cluess
Young Adult/Fantasy
Releases September 20th from Random House BFYR

From Goodreads:

Henrietta Howel can burst into flames.

Forced to reveal her power to save a friend, she's shocked when instead of being executed, she's invited to train as one of Her Majesty's royal sorcerers.

Thrust into the glamour of Victorian London, Henrietta is declared the chosen one, the girl who will defeat the Ancients, bloodthirsty demons terrorizing humanity. She also meets her fellow sorcerer trainees, handsome young men eager to test her power and her heart. One will challenge her. One will fight for her. One will betray her.

But Henrietta Howel is not the chosen one.

As she plays a dangerous game of deception, she discovers that the sorcerers have their own secrets to protect. With battle looming, what does it mean to not be the one? And how much will she risk to save the city—and the one she loves?

Exhilarating and gripping, Jessica Cluess's spellbinding fantasy introduces a powerful, unforgettable heroine, and a world filled with magic, romance, and betrayal.

Ever since my Buffy fandom days I've been a huge fan of any type of story about a heroine of myth and prophecy, destined to be a badass among badasses, so when I saw the words "chosen one" in the synopsis I started nodding right along, fully prepared to relive the Buffy glory days. Fast forward to a few short sentences later, and I find Ms. Henrietta is in fact NOT the chosen one, and I think that might make me love her even more.

As much as I love a "chosen" heroine, a young women who's full of strength, intelligence, and loyalty all on her own without the aid of prophecy to make her great is even more appealing to me, and I can't wait to discover what Henrietta is made of!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Cathy Reviews: Lady Midnight

My mother-in-law Cathy is back today with her latest review!

The Dark Artifices #1
Cassandra Clare
Paranormal Young Adult
668 pages
Margaret K. McElderry Books
Available Now
Source: ARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Amazon)
It’s been five years since the events of City of Heavenly Fire that brought the Shadowhunters to the brink of oblivion. Emma Carstairs is no longer a child in mourning, but a young woman bent on discovering what killed her parents and avenging her losses.

Together with her parabatai Julian Blackthorn, Emma must learn to trust her head and her heart as she investigates a demonic plot that stretches across Los Angeles, from the Sunset Strip to the enchanted sea that pounds the beaches of Santa Monica. If only her heart didn’t lead her in treacherous directions…

Making things even more complicated, Julian’s brother Mark—who was captured by the faeries five years ago—has been returned as a bargaining chip. The faeries are desperate to find out who is murdering their kind—and they need the Shadowhunters’ help to do it. But time works differently in faerie, so Mark has barely aged and doesn’t recognize his family. Can he ever truly return to them? Will the faeries really allow it?

Glitz, glamours, and Shadowhunters abound in this heartrending opening to Cassandra Clare’s Dark Artifices series.

Lady Midnight introduces us to a new set of Shadowhunters living in the Los Angeles Institute. Ms. Clare does a seamless job of bringing us up to date on what has been occurring in their world since the earlier books, making this storyline easy to follow without having read the previous series.

This story begins after a war between the Shadowhunters and some of the Downworlders. We meet our new heroine, Emma Carstairs, a Shadowhunter trying to solve the mystery of who killed her parents. Emma is strong-willed and strong-minded, with her major motivation in life being revenge. This tunnel-vision results in numerous instances where she rushes blindly ahead into danger with very little forethought, something that may be frustrating for older YA readers but a little more accepted by a younger reader. I kept wanting her to stop and think but then I am old! But it does endear Emma to us and we want to protect her. Emma does have someone who tries to curb her rashness–Julian Blackthorn. He is a wonderful character who is responsible, caring, and brave, but there is something underneath that peeks out and lets us know that there is something more to be seen. 

Emma and Julian are bonded as Shadowhunter partners, parabatai, which works perfectly when they are out fighting, but as you continue to read it becomes a problem personally. This is where the romance and the angst begins and grows. There is that smoldering forbidden love that we have to watch and worry over.

Ms. Clare creates a well developed plotline of murder, deception, and mystery. There is a series of murders that Emma believes is somehow related to her parents' death. As they work together to solve these crimes, old secrets come to light and enemies need to join forces. You never know who you can trust. Just what I look for in a good suspense tale. Since this is the first book in this new series, there are a lot of characters introduced throughout the book. Ms. Clare manages to balance them all without confusing the reader too much. This is partly accomplished so well because this is a long book– almost 700 pages! Do not let that scare you, this story is compelling enough that it is a page turner and you come to know these characters so well that you are truly invested in them.

Lady Midnight manages to give something to everyone – mystery, paranormal, suspense and romance. Ms. Clare leaves with several questions and a new character to have us checking for the release date for the next installment.

Rating: 4/5

Find Cassandra:

This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is Cathy's honest opinion.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Guest Post: Kady Cross + Sisters of Salt and Iron

Today I'm so pleased to have author Kady Cross to the blog to talk a little bit about Sisters of Salt and Iron, the sequel to last year's Sisters of Blood and Spirit. As you guys already know, I thoroughly enjoy this series and the relationship between sisters Lark and Wren, and I highly recommend it to those who love a good YA paranormal read.

Wren is an extraordinarily fascinating character, so when I had the chance to ask her a single question, I made sure to be a little nosy when it comes to her:) Welcome to Supernatural Snark, Kady!

Wren doesn't know what it's like to be alive other than what she's experienced through her sister. If she could be fully alive and in her own body for a single day, what are three things she'd be sure to do?
1. She would eat as much as she could from as many types of food as she could get her hands on. And she would stop to smell each dish as well.

2. She would probably kiss Kevin. Probably a lot, even though he hurt her.

3. She would simply enjoy being able to be with her sister and her friends on the same plane of existence.

Thanks so much for stopping by Kady!

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Lark Noble is finally happy. She’s trying to move on and put the events of the past behind her: the people who avoided her because she talked to the ghost of her dead twin sister, the parents who couldn’t be around her anymore and even the attempt she made on her own life. She finally has friends—people who know her secrets and still care about her—and she has Ben, the cute guy she never saw coming.

Wren Noble is lonely. Unable to interact with the living, she wants to be happy for her sister’s newfound happiness, but she feels like she’s losing her. It doesn’t help that Kevin, the very not-dead guy she was starting to fall for, seems to be moving on.

Then Wren meets Noah, the spirit of a young man who died a century ago. Noah is cute, he’s charming and he makes Wren feel something she’s never felt before. But Noah has a dark influence on Wren, and Lark’s distrust of him drives the sisters apart for the first time in their lives. As Halloween approaches and the veil between the worlds thins, bringing the dead closer to the world of the living, Lark must find a way to stop whatever deadly act Noah is planning, even if it means going through her sister to do so.

Find Kady:

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Review: A Good Rogue is Hard to Find

The Lords of Worth #2
Kelly Bowen
Historical Romance
368 pages
Available Now
Source: Bought

THE STORY (from Goodreads)

The rogue's life has been good to William Somerhall: He has his fortune, his racehorses, and his freedom. Then he moves in with his mother. It seems the eccentric Dowager Duchess of Worth has been barely skirting social disaster-assisted by one Miss Jenna Hughes, who is far too bright and beautiful to be wasting her youth as a paid companion. Now home to keep his mother from ruin, William intends to learn what's afoot by keeping his friends close-and the tempting Miss Hughes closer still.


He's tall, dark, and damnably intelligent-unfortunately for Jenna. She and the duchess are in the "redistribution business," taking from the rich and giving to the poor, and it's going great - until he shows up. But even as William plots to make an honest woman out of her, Jenna will use all her wiles to reveal just how bad a rogue he can be . . .

A Good Rogue is Hard to Find is an outstanding second installment in the Lords of Worth series, focusing on the inner workings of a family who existed on the periphery of the first book and absolutely stole the show every time they appeared. 

Despite the serious nature of the job the hero and heroine of book one undertake as their romance unfolds, there were select laugh out loud moments when a duchess backing their cause played up her eccentric reputation and created a spectacle of herself in public to distract from more covert operations. That duchess is front and center of this second book, with her son William and her "paid companion" Jenna our new romantic leads, and her antics give this installment a much lighter feel than we found in the start of this series. Her love for allowing live poultry to run amok during dinner parties and balls just to watch the feathers fly and the chaos ensue brings a smile to our faces throughout, knowing she's playing her part so that she and Jenna can continue to help those less fortunate.

William, for his part, takes just a little time to warm to simply because he threatens to be a wrench in the well-oiled machine that is Jenna and the Dowager Duchess of Worth (and it's impossible not to be rooting for the two of them to stick it to those members of the Ton who believe social status trumps the need to be a decent person). It doesn't take long for William to find his way into our good graces though, and his pursuit of Jenna is nothing if not swoon-worthy. Though he at times forgets that his title keeps a true relationship between them from ever becoming a reality, Jenna is quick to remind both him and herself, ensuring she doesn't get too swept up in something that can never be. Her honesty (about everything save the exact specifics of her role in taking from the rich to give to the poor that is) is one of her finest attributes, calling things as she sees them without dwelling on any words or actions that might initially leave a mark, and always moving forward toward achieving her goal of helping others.

Overall, A Good Rogue is Hard to Find is a quick and enormously fun read, the Dowager Duchess's relationship with Jenna ensuring we can't turn the pages fast enough to see what scheme the two of them will cook up next, while the romance with William adds a delightful flush to our cheeks and an immediate desire to pick up the next book as soon as we close the back cover.

Rating: 4/5

Find Kelly:

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

FLAWED Blog Tour + Giveaway!

Today I'm thrilled to be a part of the blog tour for Flawed, the young adult debut from P.S. I Love You author Cecelia Ahern! I'm a huge fan of dystopian stories, especially ones featuring strong young women, so I'm beyond excited to get my hands on a copy of this one. Also, P.S. I Love You made me sob like a little girl. SOB I TELL YOU!

As part of the tour, I get to share with you a quick little teaser quote to whet your appetite (fear not though, Flawed released yesterday so you can dive in immediately if you want!), but first here's a little more about Flawed:

You will be punished…

Celestine North lives a perfect life. She’s a model daughter and sister, she’s well-liked by her classmates and teachers, and she’s dating the impossibly charming Art Crevan.

But then Celestine encounters a situation where she makes an instinctive decision. She breaks a rule and now faces life-changing repercussions. She could be imprisoned. She could be branded. She could be found flawed.

In her breathtaking young adult debut, bestselling author Cecelia Ahern depicts a society where perfection is paramount and flaws lead to punishment. And where one young woman decides to take a stand that could cost her everything.

And now, your teaser!

Find Flawed:

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 


Cecelia Ahern was born on September 30, 1981 in Dublin, Ireland. She is the daughter of the former Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern. On 14th December 2009 it was announced that Cecelia had given birth to her first child with partner David Keoghan, a girl named Robin. She was secretly married on 11 June 2010 in County Kildare, Ireland. Her older sister, Georgina Ahern is married to Nicky Byrne of Irish pop group Westlife. Cecelia was a member of the Irish pop group Shimma who finished third in the Irish national for the Eurovision Song Contest in 2000. She attended Griffith College Dublin and obtained a degree in Journalism and Media Communications.

Cecelia Ahern wrote her first novel, PS. I Love You when she was twenty-one. It was published in 2004, the number 1 bestseller in Ireland for 19 weeks and sold in over forty countries. The book was adapted as a motion picture directed by Richard LaGravenese and starring Hilary Swank and Gerard Butler and released in 2007 in the United States.

Her second book, Where Rainbows End (US title: Love, Rosie or Rosie Dunne) won the German CORINE Award in 2005. She contributed with short stories to charity books and is also the co-creator and producer of the ABC comedy Samantha Who?.

Her other works include If You Could See Me Now (US title: A Silver Lining), A Place Called Here (US title: There's No Place Like Here) Thanks for the Memories (US title: Desire Lines) The Gift The Book of Tomorrow.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 


Thanks to the team over at Feiwel and Friends, one lucky winner will receive a very special prize pack including swag from both sides of the pond as well as both the US and UK editions of FLAWED. To enter, please fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Giveaway is open to US/Canada only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Be sure and check out all the stops on the tour for more chances to win!

April 5Nite Lite Book Reviews (US)
April 5Two Chicks on Books (US)
April 5Green Bean Teen Queen (US)
April (Ireland)
April 5Overflowing Library (UK)
April 6Icey Books (US)
April 6Supernatural Snark (US)
April 6- Paper Cuts Blog (US)
April 6Serendipity Reviews (UK)
April 6Bleach House Library (Ireland)
April 6Bart's Bookshelf (UK)
April 7- Forever Young Adult (US)
April 7Bumbles and Fairytales (US)
April 7Rainy Day Ramblings (US)
April 7Swoony Boys Podcast (US)
April 7A Daydreamer's Thoughts (UK)
April 7The Bibliomaniac (UK)
April 7Kirstyes (UK)
April 7Wrath Queen's Books (UK)