Thursday, October 8, 2015

Max the Brave ~ Ed Vere Spotlight + Review + Giveaway [@ed_vere, @jabberwockykids]

Max the Brave
Sourecbooks Jabberwocky
September 8, 2015
32 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

Max is a fearless kitten. Max is a brave kitten. Max is a kitten who chases mice. There’s only one problem—Max doesn’t know what a mouse looks like! With a little bit of bad advice, Max finds himself facing a much bigger challenge. Maybe Max doesn’t have to be Max the Brave all the time…

Join this adventurous black cat as he very politely asks a variety of animals for help in finding a mouse. Young readers will delight in Max’s mistakes, while adults will love the subtle, tongue-in-cheek humor of this new children’s classic.


Max the Bra e is a cute, funny picture book. The illustrations are simple, but well done. With the bold, solid backgrounds and many of the animals in the book being in black (or almost), the contrast works nicely. The book trailer below gives you a nice idea of what the illustrations look like.

The text of Max the Brave does seem to fit more for being read to children in the suggested three to six years range, than for beginning readers. (Words like, 'sometimes, 'explore,' and 'decides', would seem a little older/harder.)  It has a nice, easy to read layout, though, if someone is learning to read.

It is a book that works for children but will be something adults will enjoy reading them, too.

I liked that how the book ended was not what I was expecting. It fits well and has something to entertain those reading it - young and old.

Book Trailer:

About the Author:
Ed Vere is an author, artist and illustrator with a long track record of success in the picture book category. Max the Brave was named one of The Sunday Times’s 100 Modern Children’s Classics. His book Bedtime for Monsters was shortlisted for the 2011 Roald Dahl Funny Prize and Mr Big was chosen by Booktrust as the official Booktime book for 2009 (and was distributed to 750,000 British schoolchildren making it the largest single print run of a picture book). Vere was the World Book Day illustrator for 2009.

Max the Brave website // Activity Kit // Educator Guide

(runs now - October 31st)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

digital review copy received, thanks to publisher, via NetGalley

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Gathering Deep ~ Lisa Maxwell (earc) review [@isamaxwellYA @fluxbooks]

Gathering Deep (Sweet Unrest #2)
October 8, 2015
336 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

When Chloe Sabourin wakes in a dark, New Orleans cemetery with no memory of the previous days, she can hardly believe the story her friends tell her. They say Chloe was possessed by a witch named Thisbe, who had used the darkest magic to keep herself alive for over a century. They tell her that the witch is the one responsible for the unspeakable murders that nearly claimed the life of Chloe's friend, Lucy. Most unbelievable of all, they say that Thisbe is Chloe’s own mother. As she struggles with this devastating revelation and tries to rebuilt her life, Chloe wants nothing to do with the magic that corrupted her mother…especially since she feels drawn to it.

Now, a new series of ritualistic killings suggests that Thisbe is plotting again, and Chloe is drawn unwillingly back into the mystical underworld of the French Quarter. To stop Thisbe before she kills again, Chloe and her friends must learn what they can from the mysterious Mama Legba. But when her boyfriend Piers vanishes, Chloe will have to risk everything and embrace her own power to save the one person she has left… even if that means bringing down her mother.
I have to admit that I had a hard time getting into Gathering Deep in the beginning. While it did do a very nice job reminding readers what had happened in Sweet Unrest and where things were left, it did not immediately grab me; it was hard to devote my full attention to the story.

However, once the story was established: once we knew what had happened in the previous book, who the characters were, what their relationships were, what the new(ish) problems were and who wsa going to be involved in their resolution, things picked up considerably.

The tension was definitely there, with them likely dealing with Thisbe again, after everything that transpire din Sweet Unrest. This time, there was the added element of all that Chloe is now struggling with. She knows that her mother is Thisbe, the witch who used dark magic to live for over a century. She has to figure out what that means about her life, growing up, and the Momma she loved.

Chloe also has to figure out what it means for her and the pull she feels toward magic.

I really enjoyed the story being told by Chloe after all of the revelations of the last book. She has a lot to come to terms with in this novel and I liked that exploration of her character. The beginning that involved that, but also a lot of where her relationship with Piers stood, felt almost tedious.

I liked where that left her character, though and how things could then really get moving into the new drama and danger.

Gathering Deep does a great job using voodoo, magic, history and souls to tell a compelling, intriguing story. The addition of the family bonds, slavery, and social hierarchy - both past and present - that are included only make it a richer tale.

review copy received thanks to publisher, via NetGalley

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Romancing the Dark in the City of Light ~ Ann Jacobus (earc) Tour Review + Playlist [@annjacobusSF @The_FFBC @@StMartinsPress]

Romancing the Dark in the City of Light
Thomas Dunne Books
October 6, 2015
288 pages
add to Goodreads
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Travel, Fiction, France

A troubled teen, living in Paris, is torn between two boys, one of whom encourages her to embrace life, while the other—dark, dangerous, and attractive—urges her to embrace her fatal flaws.

Haunting and beautifully written, with a sharp and distinctive voice that could belong only to this character, Romancing the Dark in the City of Light is an unforgettable young adult novel.

Summer Barnes just moved to Paris to repeat her senior year of high school. After being kicked out of four boarding schools, she has to get on track or she risks losing her hefty inheritance. Summer is convinced that meeting the right guy will solve everything. She meets two. Moony, a classmate, is recovering against all odds from a serious car accident, and he encourages Summer to embrace life despite how hard it can be to make it through even one day. But when Summer meets Kurt, a hot, mysterious older man who she just can't shake, he leads her through the creepy underbelly of the city-and way out of her depth.

When Summer's behavior manages to alienate everyone, even Moony, she's forced to decide if a life so difficult is worth living. With an ending that'll surprise even the most seasoned reader, Romancing the Dark in the City of Light is an unputdownable and utterly compelling novel.

I love how different Romancing the Dark in the City of Light is. It is different from your usual YA romance, different from your typical book set in Paris, different from what you're expecting.

Summer is finishing high school in Paris, something many would dream of - and love. Summer, though, does not really want to be there. She is only there because she has to be, having been expelled from four boarding schools during high school.

It is not only her repeated senior year that has Summer failing see the beauty in the City of Light. Her depression, her tendency towards substance abuse, her troubled relationship with her (mostly absent but Pairs dwelling) mother, her father's death and all that is expected of her combine to make things too much for Summer.

Though she often has a maudlin outlook, Summer is a character who is easy to connect to and sympathize with. Her outlook is different than most characters we get . Her personality, her viewpoint and her actions are only shown to better effect (and often magnified) through her Kurt and Moony's place in her life.They are such contradictory characters, each appealing to - and bringing out - different sides of Summer. 

The more we get to know each character and see how how Summer interacts with them, the more evident the real juxtaposition of who they are and what they want and expect out of Summer becomes.

I loved Summer. There were times I hated her decisions and times I loved or appreciated them. Her pain and her struggle were apparent, even when I was against what she was doing - or how. She is a flawed character, who is in pain and struggling but she's well written and someone you feel for. 

Romancing the Dark in the City of Light is a fresh, unique, well written read with fantastic character (with great histories), I am very much looking forward to what Ann Jacobus publishes next.

So, I am not actually supposed to do a Dream Cast - see the schedule for which blogs are - but I quickly imagined one character in Romancing the Dark being played but, well, another character, so . . . .
Christian Grey as Kurt

(in no order)
"I Wanna Hold Your Hand" ~ The Beatles
"The Crow and the Butterfly" ~ Shinedown

"The Last Night" ~ Skillet

"Day Drinking" ~ Little Big Town

"Take Me to Church" ~ Hozier

"Get Up Offa That Thing" ~ James Brown

"Suicide Note" ~ Kyle Spratt

"Whiskey" ~ Heidi Spencer and the Rare Birds

"Weight of the World" ~ Marc Broussard

"I Need Another Drink" ~ Hinder

"Through the Ghost" ~ Shinedown


Paris Métro Charles de Gaulle-Étoile The train rounds the turn in the tunnel and the interior lights flicker off. Summer Barnes, pressed by the crowd against the doors in the second car, regards the brightness of the station ahead. This must be how it looks when you have an NDE, she thinks. A near-death experience. 

You're rushing through a dark tunnel toward The Lightahead. 

Where Dad and Grandma wait with smiles and open arms. 

A whiff of the garlicky breath of the old lady leaning into her brings Summer back to the moment. 

Nearby, a young Goth girl lays her head against her boyfriend, closing her kohl-rimmed eyes. His pierced and studded face softens as they entwine like tangled wire. 

That's the answer, Summer thinks. Three feet away. 


If you're passionate about someone, and they feel the same, everything else must fall into place. 

And have purpose. 

She's in the most beautiful city in the world and all she can think about is getting on the next flight out. Or finding a pair of ruby slippers and tapping her heels. It's not that she doesn't appreciate it. Paris! La Ville Lumière. City of Light, endlessly cool. Where 

Mom lives, although seems to spend very little time. 

Maybe being stuck in the tunnel has to do with coming to Paris unexpectedly. One minute she was sprawled on her dorm room bed, the next she was staring out an airplane window at the icy black north Atlantic far below. 

Or maybe it has to do with the fact that lately, she's always solo. 

Whatever, the November cold and the short, sunless days weigh her down like a ton of snow.

She just needs to find someone in Paris to hold hands with. 

A train thunders by in the opposite direction. Her ears pop. 

Brakes screech. Her train jerks to a halt and Summer slams into the garlic lady. They've stopped before reaching the end of the crowded platform. 

A woman screams. The rawness vibrates through the station and tunnels. 

A trill of panic zaps her. The train doors open and no one moves for two beats. Then she and the others rush out. What if it's a bomb? 

No, there's been some accident. Two Métro employees jog down the stairs and force their way through the jittery crowd. One opens the white electrical closet against the wall and the other scurries down the stairs at the end of the platform to the tracks. 

Everyone waits. No one leaves. A little saucer-eyed girl grips a man's hand. Summer smiles reassuringly at her. That stupid dad needs to get his kid out of here instead of gawking at the show like a big-mouthed bass. 

The Goth girl points at the tracks, her face frozen with shock. 

The edgy mob surges forward and people crouch to peer between the cars at something under the train. 

Probably a person. Summer struggles to think of ... Little Red Riding Hood, equilateral triangles, unfurled lilies. 

It doesn't work. The tracks are practically yelling, Look over here! Plus people are hyperventilating up all the oxygen. She gropes for the silver flask of mandarin orange vodka in her pocket, unscrews it, and takes a deep swig. 

Time to partir. She turns and collides with a tall guy in a dark wool coat and hat. "Pardon," she mutters, looking up at him. 

He's her age and breathtakingly gorgeous. The kind of guy who would normally look right through her. 

"Do you speak English?" she blurts out. 

"I do." His dark, sympathetic eyes seem to say, Isn't this strange, 

isn't life awful? 

"What happened?" 

"That's a woman on the tracks," he says somberly. "Were you on the train?" 

"Yeah." Summer rubs her eyes with her gloved hand. It's weird, but she's close to tears. "Did she ... fall? God, I hope she wasn't pushed." 

"Here," he says. He nudges people out of the way by the edge of the platform between two cars. She leans in to look. Two Métro guys are straightening the cloth that is already covering the body. A black, patent-leather, low-heeled pump lies on its side in the gravel between the rails. "Oh," she breathes. That solitary shoe makes her knees go rubbery. "How horrible." 

The guy tilts his head. "Not necessarily. If she jumped, it may have been a release." He pauses. "A deliverance." 

Summer blinks at him, then pivots and pushes her way to the exit stairs, heat creeping up her neck. That's exactly what she was thinking-that the lady is so lucky to be out of here. She knows the guy can't read her mind and doesn't mean anything by those words, but there it is: the real, and growing reason why she's got to find someone to love. 

Copyright © 2015 by Ann Jacobus

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Follow the Romancing The Dark in The City of Light by Ann Jacobus Blog Tour and don't miss anything! Click on the banner to see the tour schedule.

Ann Jacobus earned an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She lived with her family for many years in the Arabian Gulf and in Paris, France. She now lives in San Francisco where she writes, reads, volunteers weekly on a suicide crisis line, and frequently resorts to crock-pot meals of canned soup, fowl and whatever's in the fridge.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Booksih Things to Quit

This week's Ten:
Ten Bookish Things I Want to Quit Or Have Quit:
Ten Books I Need to Re-Check Out

One 'Bookish Thing I Want to Quit' is checking books out from the library, not finishing them before I have to return them . . . and then forgetting to check them out again and actually finish the book. Here are ten of those books:

The Worlds We Make (Fallen World #3) by Megan Crewe

Absolutely True Lies by Rachel Stuhler

Three (Article 5 #3) by Kristen Simmons

Cliare de Lune (#1) by Christine Johnson

Over You by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus

Revolution 19 (#1) by Gregg Rosenblum

Rotten by Michael Northrop

Linked (#1) by Imogen Howson

Exile (#1) by Kevin Emerson

Body Count (Sophie Anderson #1) by PD Martin

Please leave a comment and let me know what Bookish Things You Want to Quit - do you need to stop reading a certain author, give up on a series, get back to a certain genre - whatever it is, let me know! (And if you also don't always finish your library books, but want to, let me know that, too!)
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