Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Book + Flower: A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

Kell is one of the last Travelers—rare magicians who choose a parallel universe to visit. 

Grey London is dirty, boring, lacks magic, ruled by mad King George. Red London is where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London is ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. People fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. Once there was Black London—but no one speaks of that now.

Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see. This dangerous hobby sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to another world for her 'proper adventure'.

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive—trickier than they hoped. 

Monday, July 27, 2015

Book Look: Love, Fortunes, and Other Disasters by Kimberly Karalius

Love, Fortunes, and Other Disasters {Book Look}

Goodreads //

In the tradition of Alice Hoffman’s Practical Magic, one girl chooses to change her fortune and her fate by falling in love.

Love is real in the town of Grimbaud, and Fallon Dupree has dreamed of attending high school there for years. After all, generations of Duprees have successfully followed the (100% accurate!) love fortunes from Zita’s famous Love Charms Shop to happily marry their high school sweethearts. It’s a tradition. So she is both stunned and devastated when her fortune states that she will NEVER find love.

Fortunately, Fallon isn’t the only student with a terrible love fortune, and a rebellion is brewing. Fallon is determined to take control of her own fate—even if it means working with a notorious heartbreaker like Sebastian.

Will Fallon and Sebastian be able to overthrow Zita’s tyranny and fall in love?

Sunday, July 26, 2015

ARC Review: Legacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman

eARC via Paper Lantern Lit
Published: August 25, 2015 // Harlequin Teen
Rating: 2.5 Stars
Goodreads // Amazon

Imagine a time when the gods turn a blind eye to the agony of men, when the last of the hellions roam the plains and evil stirs beyond the edges of the map. A time when cities burn, and in their ashes, empires rise.

Alexander, Macedonia’s sixteen-year-old heir, is on the brink of discovering his fated role in conquering the known world but finds himself drawn to newcomer Katerina, who must navigate the dark secrets of court life while hiding her own mission: kill the Queen. But Kat’s first love, Jacob, will go to unthinkable lengths to win her, even if it means competing for her heart with Hephaestion, a murderer sheltered by the prince. And far across the sea, Zofia, a Persian princess and Alexander’s unmet fiancée, wants to alter her destiny by seeking the famed and deadly Spirit Eaters.

Weaving fantasy with the salacious and fascinating details of real history, New York Times bestselling author Eleanor Herman reimagines the greatest emperor the world has ever known: Alexander the Great, in the first book of the Blood of Gods and Royals series.

Alexander the Great. He is known though out the course of history as just that- great. Granted, also a little off the deep end, but none-the-less, he still did things like (I don’t know) lead a freaking huge military campaign and by the age of thirty, had created one of the most ginormous empires of the ancient world. In case you wanted a history lesson. I MEAN, Y’ALL, HE WAS TUTORED BY FREAKING ARISTOTLE. ARISTOTLE. What does any of this fantastic and rich history have to do with LEGACY OF KINGS? Why—that’s an excellent question! And I’ll tell you. This book is a historical reimagining of Alexander the Great’s ruling. And that is why I see no need for, like, six point of views. At most I can see about two  (MAYBE even three) being helpful. Some of the points of views *cough* Jacob *cough* made me want to throw my kindle across the room and tell the character to put on some big boy panties, stop being so dang desperate, and freaking just live your life.   

Okay, so I am going to tell you straight up what my rating of this book is. It’s two-point-five stars. It’s that low because of the points of views and the vast quantity of them. I am also going to tell you despite this, I still really want to read the second installment in the series. But not for the reason you’re most likely thinking of.

On that note, let’s talk point of view, plot and character development.

We have Alexander, Heph, Jacob, the Queen, Zofia, Kat and Cyn. So actually seven POVs. I mean goodness gracious and sweet Lordy that is a whole bunch of people. LEGACY OF KINGS is not a long book. All these different characters took away from what I think is the main plot of the story. That being Alexander coming into power, how he did so and what challenges did he face. Although I really liked Alex and Kat’s point of views the best, I’m not sure how necessary it was for me to know what Kat is thinking or her journey. I mean that is one part I especially enjoyed, but there are some major gaps in her story and why she does what she does and why she can’t be with Jacob (like girl, how did you know what your mission was before you learned all that stuff?) that really confused me. And I bet I just confused you. BUT THAT IS FINE. TRUST ME ON THIS. Alex, who I think is the most essential character in the story, really didn’t get as much screen time as I wished he would have. And that also distraught me. Quite a bit actually. He was the character who I found to be the most round.

Jacob *hits with sledgehammer* I detest him and his desperate for attention ways. I mean *grumbles incoherently under breathe* And then we have Heph WHO HAS FREAKING ADDING TWO PLUS FREAKING TWO ISSUES. Though, he can fight good. Which I guess means I can forgive a fraction of his stupidity. And the whole thing at the end was pretty cute. (why yes, I am tempting you to read it) THE QUESS IS CRAZY AND FREAKING BADASS BUT I WISH I FIGURED OUT THE EXTENT OF THAT FROM OUTSIDE HER HEAD. I honestly believe that being inside so many of the main character’s head’s took away from the story as opposed to adding to it. And we didn’t get to learn about them as much and they just didn’t feel like real people in the way I think they had the potential to do so.

Lastly, what was the point of Zofia? Seriously, what was her point? Did I miss something? I’m being completely serious.

LEGACY OF KINGS, while although had some swoon-worthy characters (Heph) it also did some things which made me an angry not-so-little reader. Like trying to made a character super (I want to say feminist because Kat and Cyn and even the Queen give off the vibe but that’s really not it so fill in the blank) but instead making them seem unnecessarily reckless. Also not expanding on points that need expanding upon and delving deep into points of others. I wish I got to know more about Alex’s crave for a cure and less about Zofia getting kidnapped and embarrassed. I wish I got to know Heph more and know why Kat craved revenge. Because, darling, that’s not enough. I wish for more self discovery.

So in the end, while nicely written, LEGACY OF KINGS lacked depth, but somehow has me wanting the copy of the next book just to see if there is more action and adventure. Also a dose of real hope and triumph. That is all.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Make My Wish Come True by Fiona Harper

Find it on Goodreads
November 1, 2013
Review copy via Netgalley

Family-orientated and Christmas-dinner cook extraordinaire Juliet is trying to keep it together in the wake of her marriage breakdown two Christmases ago, but the cracks are beginning to show.

Bright and vivacious Gemma was always the favourite daughter…So she has no qualms about leaving Christmas in her sister Juliet’s capable hands; and escaping the pressures of her glamorous job, and the festive madness by jetting off to somewhere warm. 

When Gemma shirks responsibility once too many and announces she’s off to the Caribbean (again!); Juliet finally snaps. Gemma offers her sister the perfect solution - to swap Christmases: she’ll stay home and cook the turkey (how hard can it be?) and Juliet can fly off into the sun and have a restorative break.

In the midst of all the chaos, there’s Will, Juliet’s dishy neighbour who’s far too nice to float Gemma’s boat and may secretly harbour feelings for her sister; and Marco, the suave Italian in the villa next door, who has his own ideas about the best way to help Juliet unwind. 

Will the sisters abandon caution and make this a Christmas
swap to remember? 

Well now I want to punch people. And hug people. And go to England. The cute cover is slightly deceiving of the story between the covers. And I don’t mean the story was bad. Because it’s not, but it’s also not altogether what I expected. Which can be perceived as either a good or a bad thing. Right now, I’m not really sure what it is.

I know I read this in March, but I wanted some Christmas. I mean, I set it to Michael Bublé’s Christmas album yesterday and drank hot chocolate. This book, in all honesty, wasn’t very Christmas-sy. It was more ‘our family has a lot of issues we avoid and we kind of hate each other but tiz the season let’s give this one last shot and maybe find love along the way.’

This story is the tale of two sisters, two men and how they find themselves and rekindle the sense of family that was destroyed at a young age. Neither of the sisters really appreciate the other, so I think that this book basically tries to work through the problems. Misconceptions are revealed and worked through. A few plot twists here and dash of me wanted to punch people in the face here and there and- voila! Le book! The sisters swap Christmas’ and learn how the other one lives, and a little about each other along the way.

I would love to say I loved this book, but I didn’t. I couldn’t connect with it the way I wanted too and honestly, I didn’t like any of the male supposed love interests. I found them to be rather. . .annoying? Too perfect? I don’t really know how to put it. *chuckles* Anyway, I can’t recommend it. Not for any particular reason, it just wasn’t my cup of tea.

Christmas recs to remember?

Thursday, July 23, 2015

A DIY Bookish Snack: Chocolate Covered Potato Chips.

Here is the part where I tell you I'm sorry. Because when you start eating these (especially with a book in your hands) it's pretty much impossible to stop. This is the easiest recipe you will ever make. 

I can pretty much guarantee it. It has two ingredients and you don't even use the stove. No. 

You use the microwave. 

~Swoon Inducing Snacks~
Chocolate Covered Potato Chips

1.5 Cups of Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips (you can totally use dark or milk if you prefer that)
Bag of Potato Chips

What to do? 

In a bowl, pour the measured amount of chocolate chips. You're going to need butcher paper to set the chips on to cool. Or a pan of some sort. 
In the microwave, cover the chocolate with a paper towel and warm for 30 seconds and stir until pretty mixed up. This is so the chocolate on the bottom of the bowl doesn't burn and the heat is properly distributed. 
Once you think it's all mixed up, put it back in the microwave for another 30 seconds and then stir again. I had to do this three times, but repeat until everything is melted. 

Once it's all melted, get a potato chip and swirl the bottom part of it in the chocolate until it's all coated. Set it on the butcher paper to cool. Keep repeating this process until all the chocolate is used. Or until you feel like you have enough done and want to eat the rest of the melted chocolate. 

I had to set the chips in the fridge for the chocolate to harden because it's too hot outside for them to just cool by themselves. 

Ta-da! You now have a super simple and super tasty snack. Enjoy! Did you make them? Tell me what you think! 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Book + Flowers: Sugar by Deirdre Riordan Hall


Are you looking for a five-star, life changing, gut wrenching, soul stealing, heart racing book? Read this one. Its perfect and more. Is that possible? Hall shows you that it is so much more than possible---its in your reach. 

 I’m the fat Puerto Rican–Polish girl who doesn’t feel like she belongs in her skin, or anywhere else for that matter. I’ve always been too much and yet not enough.

Sugar Legowski-Gracia wasn’t always fat, but fat is what she is now at age seventeen. Not as fat as her mama, who is so big she hasn’t gotten out of bed in months. Not as heavy as her brother, Skunk, who has more meanness in him than fat, which is saying something. But she’s large enough to be the object of ridicule wherever she is: at the grocery store, walking down the street, at school. Sugar’s life is dictated by taking care of Mama in their run-down home—cooking, shopping, and, well, eating. A lot of eating, which Sugar hates as much as she loves.

When Sugar meets Even (not Evan—his nearly illiterate father misspelled his name on the birth certificate), she has the new experience of someone seeing her and not her body. As their unlikely friendship builds, Sugar allows herself to think about the future for the first time, a future not weighed down by her body or her mother.

Soon Sugar will have to decide whether to become the girl that Even helps her see within herself or to sink into the darkness of the skin-deep role her family and her life have created for her.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Book Look: Last Year's Mistake by Gina Ciocca

Book Look: Last Year's Mistake

Goodreads //

Kelsey and David became best friends the summer before freshman year and were inseparable ever after. Until the night a misunderstanding turned Kelsey into the school joke, and everything around her crumbled—including her friendship with David. So when Kelsey's parents decided to move away, she couldn't wait to start over and leave the past behind. Except, David wasn't ready to let her go...

Now it's senior year and Kelsey has a new group of friends, genuine popularity, and a hot boyfriend. Her life is perfect. That is, until David's family moves to town and he shakes up everything. Soon old feelings bubble to the surface and threaten to destroy Kelsey's second chance at happiness. The more time she spends with David, the more she realizes she never truly let him go. And maybe she never wants to.

Told in alternating sections, LAST YEAR'S MISTAKE is a charming and romantic debut about loving, leaving, and letting go.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Book Quote: Anything Could Happen by Will Walton

When you’re in love with the wrong person for the right reasons, anything could happen.

Tretch lives in a very small town where everybody's in everybody else's business. Which makes it hard for him to be in love with his straight best friend. For his part, Matt is completely oblivious to the way Tretch feels – and Tretch can’t tell whether that makes it better or worse.

The problem with living a lie is that the lie can slowly become your life. For Tretch, the problem isn’t just with Matt. His family has no idea who he really is and what he’s really thinking. The girl at the local bookstore has no clue how off-base her crush on him is. And the guy at school who’s a thorn in Tretch’s side doesn’t realize how close to the truth he’s hitting.

Tretch has spent a lot of time dancing alone in his room, but now he’s got to step outside his comfort zone and into the wider world. Because like love, a true self can rarely be contained. 

ANYTHING COULD HAPPEN is a poignant, hard-hitting exploration of love and friendship, a provocative debut that shows that sometimes we have to let things fall apart before we can make them whole again.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Review: Tangled Webs by Lee Bross

Tangled Webs by Lee Bross
ARC via NetGalley
Published by Disney Hyperion: June 23, 2015
Amazon // Goodreads

London, 1725. Everybody has a secret. Lady A will keep yours—for a price. This sumptuous, scandalous YA novel is wickedly addictive.

Lady A is the most notorious blackmailer in the city. With just a mask and a gown to disguise her, she sweeps into lavish balls and exclusive events collecting the most valuable currency in 1725 London—secrets.

But leading a double life isn't easy. By day Lady A is just a sixteen-year-old girl named Arista who lives in fear of her abusive master, Bones, and passes herself off as a boy to move safely through the squalor of London's slums. When Bones attempts to dispose of his pawn forever, Arista is rescued by the last person she expects: Jonathan Wild, the infamous Thief Taker General who moves seamlessly between the city's criminal underworld and its most elite upper circles. Arista partners with Wild on her own terms in the hopes of saving enough money to buy passage out of London.

Everything changes when she meets Graeden Sinclair, the son of a wealthy merchant. Grae has traveled the world, has seen the exotic lands Arista has longed to escape to her whole life, and he loves Arista for who she is—not for what she can do for him. Being with Grae gives something Arista something precious that she swore off long ago: hope. He has promised to help Arista escape the life of crime that has claimed her since she was a child. But can you ever truly escape the past?

What do you get when you put unconditional love, the 1700s, and daggers in a bowl of kick butt? You, my lovely readers, get TANGLED WEBS by Lee Bross. Arista is Lady A, a notorious blackmailer from the London underworld. She gives secrets to Bones and in return…I’m not actually sure what she gets in return besides not being dead. The secrets are that of the rich ton. Dressed in back with a mask made of feathers, she wanders the parties of the influential and gets money in exchange for not spilling their darkest secrets. Giving the money to Bones, she gets to stay alive a little longer. Her only friends are her so very, very sweet maid, Becky, and Nic, who tries to be her protector.

Then her home (or prison, really) comes down in flames. Literally. Because of this she takes an offer from Wild. She becomes the Lady A for his deception and in return, unknowingly, he gives her a family and acceptance. He gives her a home.

So! *claps* Let’s talk about the characters. First of (drum roll please) let’s chat about why I like Arista. She’s brave. She doesn’t deviate from who she is; she doesn’t forget that at her core she is human and she is good, despite all the horror surrounding her fight to survive in a world she can’t quite call her own. She works to get out of the life that has been thrown at her, and even when she finds herself stuck and unable to get out without a fight, she then stays in for the good of her friend.

I like Grey because his love is unconditional. Everyone needs a little bit of that, I think. And he definitely has it. But, that’s about all I really know about him. OH—he also has a ship and has been to India. So, I suppose that means that he is adventurous. I don’t know, I like him and his way of loving, but other than that Grey isn’t really a round character. He is still lovely and beautiful, don’t get me wrong. He is also what Arista needs, but there’s not actual depth to his personality. At least, I didn’t think so.

I actually really enjoyed this book. It felt very ‘taking hold of your life’ to me. It also wasn’t super duper in depth where you have to pay attention to every detail. It was pretty short and sweet, with a story line about finding your strength and getting to know you. *shrugs* I also just really like this time period.

So, yes. I would recommend it, as a matter of fact. However, I wouldn’t say grab a copy asap, but more read it when it feels right. Cheesy, right. *chuckles*

How do you feel about characters who can totally kick butt? And about guys who seem to forgive everything?

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Book Review: Beautiful Girl by Fleur Philips {BookSparks Summer Challenge}

Beautiful Girl by Fleur Philips
Goodreads // Amazon
Published June 2, 2015: SparkPress
This book was received in part of the BookSparks Summer Reading Challenge. This did not affect my review.

Seventeen-year-old Melanie Kennicut is beautiful. Her entire life revolves around this beauty because her overly controlling mother has been dragging her to casting calls and auditions since she was four years old. According to Joanne Kennicut, Melanie was born to follow in her footsteps.

But Melanie never wanted this life. When a freak car accident leaves her with facial lacerations that will require plastic surgery, she can't help but wonder if this is the answer to her prayers. For the first time in her life, she has a chance to live like a normal teenager--at least for a little while--away from the photo shoots and movie sets that have dominated her entire existence.

But after Melanie allows her best friend to come to the house to see her, Joanne decides to hide her daughter in Montana for the remainder of the summer. There, Melanie won't be seen by anyone they know, and her face will heal in time for the scheduled surgery in late August. Joanne’s plan backfires, however, when Melanie meets Sam, a Native American boy hired by the home's owner to tend to the property. Sam is nothing like the Hollywood boys Melanie knows--he¹s poor, his father's a drunk who possesses a bizarre gift inherited from a Kootenai Shaman, and his only brother disappeared into the mountains after the death of their mother eight years before.

What transpires over a mere 36 hours after Sam and Melanie meet changes both of their lives in ways they never thought possible.

Melanie is beautiful.

After an accident, scars coat her face like trees in a forest. There isn’t a place where they aren’t. Her mother controls her life, and is horrified by Melanie’s appearance. Because of this she has her husband book a trip to the middle of nowhere. In the middle of nowhere, Melanie meets a person who doesn’t see her for her face---beautiful or not. Melanie has to figure out if she wants to be beautiful, or find out what else is out there for her. But, of course, nothing is ever that simple.

BEAUTIFUL GIRL was short. Like, super short. Goodreads says it is 150 pages, but it didn’t even feel like that. I don’t particularly mean that as a compliment. I don’t know if my biggest complaint is the instantaneous love (falling head over heels in a need kind of way) or the lack of feelings I had toward Melanie or her mother or her brother or her said love interest. I don’t really have much to say about this novel because, even though a bunch happened, it didn’t feel like a whole bunch happened. Does that even make any sense? I suppose there was a girl trying desperately to break free, even if she didn’t actually know what she was trying to break free from. I suppose that the love the necessary in order for her to realize that she was worth something more than her face.

I suppose her mother needs to be redeemed. But, (of course there is a but) I can’t actually say I liked any of the events. They felt very two-dimensional. I didn’t find myself falling for Sam. He was a beacon for Melanie. A needed light. But I really wish that she didn’t fall so fast.

This book needed to slow down. Put on the brakes. Sit down for a second. Take a nap. It was just so, so fast paces to the point where it felt very rushed. It just wasn’t my cup of tea---the book was just two rushed and I couldn’t get the feeling of being connected to any of the characters.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Review: Fire Season by Hollye Dexter {Truth or Dare Blog Tour}

Fire Season by Hollye Dexter
Goodreads // Amazon
She Writes Press

Who would you be if you lost everything?

Hollye Dexter and her husband Troy woke one night to find their house ablaze. To escape the fire, they had to jump from their second-story window with their toddler son—and then watch their house and home-based businesses burn to the ground. Over the next two years, the family went bankrupt, lost their cars and another home, and got dropped by their best friends. As the outer layers of her life were stripped away, Dexter began to unravel emotionally; but then she found herself on the brink of losing her marriage, and she realized that if she was going to save her family, she would have to pull herself back together somehow. 

As she fought to reassemble the pieces of the life she’d had, Dexter discovered that a shattered heart has the ability to regenerate in a mighty way; that even in the midst of disaster, you can find your place; and that when everything you identify with is gone, you are free to discover who you really are. Poignant and inspiring, Fire Season is a story for anyone who has ever lost hope—and found it again.

Oh my sweet goodness gracious all I want to do after finishing FIRE SEASON is hug Hollye. And maybe cry a little. And tell her that she is a much bigger person than I probably will ever be. And tell Hollye how much I admire her and her family. This memoir did something to me. It felt *chuckles and shakes head* This book, y’all it felt like drowning. Or how I imagine I think drowning to feel. I felt like my head would get pushed toward the surface of the water, only to get shoved under again: nails scratching at the throat, fighting to shove oxygen into the lungs, eyes bulging and watering and lungs burning like they were set on fire. It felt like falling and getting up. Actually, it felt like getting pushed to the pavement and standing up. 

FIRE SEASON sets it’s course on a normal day and a feeling. A feeling like things were going to change. Then it literally all comes down in flames. Following the events and the emotions after the fire consumed their house and thus changing the way the Dexter family lived, FIRE SEASON pulls at the human heart strings in a way that made me feel numb. Dexter puts her family dynamics, the good and the bad and the ugly and the heartbreaking, on display for the world to read and I feel grateful. She makes you re-evaluate your life and shows you what you have got to be grateful for. 

This novel feels human. Gorgeously composed, terrifyingly raw and real, I couldn’t put it down. Oh my. That sounds odd. But, really. I couldn’t. I wanted the drunk in the beginning to be right about them lasting. I wanted a happy (or at least not quite as tragic) ending. Hope, hurt and healing, this memoir is one I would highly recommend.