Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Stick Cat ~ Tom Watson review [@HarperChildrens]

Stick Cat: Cats in the City (Stick Cat #2)
Harper Collins
April 25, 2017
224 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

*The Kindle version of Stick Cat: A Tale of Two Kitties is currently (4/25) only $1.99

Join Stick Cat and his incomparable sidekick Edith on another dangerous, epic, and hilarious rescue mission in Tom Watson’s Stick Cat: Cats in the City!

With over-the-top fun and humor, this scrumptious story features Tom Watson’s trademark laughs, adventure, and hilarious stick-figure drawings, perfect for fans of the Stick Dog, Big Nate, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid books.

Stick Cat is going somewhere he’s never been before—his best friend Edith’s apartment. It’s got everything: donut crumbs in the sink, a fire escape, and a window with a great view of the big city. While admiring the view, Stick Cat sees trouble. Hazel, the bagel maker, is in serious danger in the building across the alley. Stick Cat will use his smarts—and Edith’s appetite—to devise a rescue plan. But can Hazel hang on long enough for this dynamic duo to save her?
I do not read a lot of children's books so Stick Cat: Cats in the City was not my usual read (it's for ages 8-12) but it looked cute. It is a fun read and it is cute. While it's the second Stick Cat book, there are only a few mentions of the first book - just enough to make you curious about that adventure but not spoil it if you haven't read it already.

Stick Cat and his friend Edith (who have an interesting way of visiting each other!) are two quite different cats. Stick Cat is more practical and accepting of things while Edith's a bit fussy and quite high maintenance. They're best friends, though, and have to work together if they want to save Hazel of Hazel's Bagels (which they do, but for different reasons).

The way they go about saving Hazel is pretty incredible (and not a little bit dangerous). The difference between Stick Cat's problem solving and planning and Hazel's confusion and focus on food makes for a humorous tale.

Stick Cat: Cats in the City is a book I would have enjoyed reading in elementary school and it is one that older readers can still enjoy if they're reading it to siblings, children, or kids they're babysitting.  (Tom Watson is also the author of the Stick Dog series books.)

finished copy received from publisher for review consideration

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Edge of the Abyss ~ Emily Skrutskie (earc) review [@skrutskie @Fluxbooks]

The Edge of the Abyss (The Abyss Surrounds Us #2)
April 18, 2017
281 pages
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Three weeks have passed since Cassandra Leung pledged her allegiance to the ruthless pirate-queen Santa Elena and set free Bao, the sea monster Reckoner she’d been forced to train. The days as a pirate trainee are long and grueling, but it’s not the physical pain that Cas dreads most. It’s being forced to work with Swift, the pirate girl who broke her heart.

But Cas has even bigger problems when she discovers that Bao is not the only monster swimming free. Other Reckoners illegally sold to pirates have escaped their captors and are taking the NeoPacific by storm, attacking ships at random and ruining the ocean ecosystem. As a Reckoner trainer, Cas might be the only one who can stop them. But how can she take up arms against creatures she used to care for and protect?

Will Cas embrace the murky morals that life as a pirate brings or perish in the dark waters of the NeoPacific?

The Edge of the Abyss is the sequel to 2016's The Abyss Surrounds Us (see my review here). The division of the two books was very smartly done. As only weeks have passed since the events of The Abyss Surrounds Us's ending not much time has passed, the big change is with (and in) Cas. Especially when comparing the beginning of the first book and the beginning of the second there's a marked difference in Cas's mindset: how she sees the pirates, how she sees the SRC and Reckoner training and, most importantly, her role with either/both.

This novel does a great job building on the world and relationships introduced in the first book. We now know about Reckoners, why they need training and what they can do. We know about Cas, her past and the decision she made to stay on the Minnow - and why. Now we get to see some of the repercussions of decisions made and things discovered in the first book. It's time for Cas to figure things out, to piece things together, and hopefully right some wrongs. Maybe even without dying in the process.

Things between Cas and Swift are not easy this second go round and the complications in their relationship help show us more of the pirate world, of how things operate and just how tricky things can be. I liked learning more about both of them and seeing how what they find out affected them.

Events of The Edge of the Abyss were not what I would have guessed would happen but were definitely the natural progression of things introduced in The Abyss Surrounds Us. It was a fun, exciting, sometimes frustrating, at times frustrating but always rewarding read. The development of the characters' relationships was wonderful. The ending was different than I thought it would be - even right up until it happened (and I love that!).

This was a great read and I look forward to more from author Emily Skrutskie.

digital copy received for review from publisher, via NetGalley

Friday, April 21, 2017

Book Trailer Friday [@simonteen @suzanne_young]

The Adjustment, the fifth book in The Program series by Suzanne Young was released on Tuesday, the 18th.

The Program Series books:
The Program [review]
The Treatment
The Recovery (#2.5)
The Remedy [review]
The Epidemic [review]
The Adjustment

The Remedy and The Epidemic are prequels to The Program, The Treatment, (The Recovery,) and The Adjustment but can be read after or before them.

How do you go back to a life you can’t remember? Find out in this follow up to the New York Times bestselling The Program and The Treatment.

Tatum Masterson never went through The Program. She never had her memory stripped, never had to fight to remain herself. But when Weston, her longtime boyfriend and love of her life, was taken by handlers, she hoped he’d remember her somehow—that their love would be strong enough.

It wasn’t.

Like all returners, Weston came back a blank canvas. The years he and Tatum spent together were forgotten, as well as the week when he mysteriously disappeared before The Program came for him.

Regardless of his memory loss, Tatum fights to get Weston to remember her. And just as they start to build a new love, they hear about the Adjustment—a new therapy that implants memories from a donor. Despite the risks, Tatum and Weston agree to go through the process. Tatum donates her memories from their time together.

But the problem with memories is that they are all a matter of perspective. So although Weston can now remember dating Tatum, his emotions don’t match the experiences. And this discrepancy is slowly starting to unravel him, worse than anything The Program could have done.

And as the truth of their life together becomes clear, Tatum will have to decide if she loves Weston enough to let him go, or to continue to live the lie they’d build together.

Prepare for your Adjustment.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Duels & Deception ~ Cindy Anstey (earc) review [@CindyAnstey @SwoonReads]

Duels and Deception
Swoon Reads
April 11, 2017
368 pages
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Miss Lydia Whitfield, heiress to the family fortune, has her future entirely planned out. She will run the family estate until she marries the man of her late father's choosing, and then she will spend the rest of her days as a devoted wife. Confident in those arrangements, Lydia has tasked her young law clerk, Mr. Robert Newton, to begin drawing up the marriage contracts. Everything is going according to plan.

Until Lydia—and Robert along with her—is kidnapped. Someone is after her fortune and won't hesitate to destroy her reputation to get it. With Robert's help, Lydia strives to keep her family's good name intact and expose whoever is behind the devious plot. But as their investigation delves deeper and their affections for each other grow, Lydia starts to wonder whether her carefully planned future is in fact what she truly wants…
Duels and Deception is written by Cindy Anstey, author of last year's Love, Lies and Spies. Though the new novel is also a Regency romance, it does not overlap with the characters of Love, Lies and Spies or their lives. While I wouldn't have disliked seeing those characters again, I also liked that this was a wholly separate tale. It allows this to really be about Lydia, her family, Robert, his life and how it all intersects.

There is definitely still that wit, charm and humor that I loved in Anstey's first novel and I couldn't have been happier about that. There were whole passages I highlighted because the interaction between the characters, the way the societal norms were taken and (while still mattering greatly) spun on their heads a bit for humor. These characters absolutely felt the need to abide by what was expected, proper and decent but also managed to be completely not what you would expect from someone being proper decent or as expected.

At times it was a bit difficult to see that bigger picture that everything was a part of; it seemed like vents weren't always part of some larger plot but more just happening. It was all a part of some bigger, overall story, however. I liked that you could get so involved in what was currently happening that you forgot where it played in the grand scheme of things.

I enjoyed that details about Regency life, about what was expected of the different classes and genders, and how things worked were included and a part of the story. It not only lent a more realistic air to things but was great fun (and interesting).

The romance(s) in Duels and Deception are fantastic with the right amounts of chemistry, frustration (in regards to the era and how things must take place but also the different characters' involvements), humor and charm. It all makes for a superb read and I am absolutely, completely, one hundred percect looking forward to Cindy Anstey's next novel, 2018's Suitors and Sabotage.

digital copy received for review, from publisher, via NetGalley

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Xander & the Dream Thief ~ Margaret Dilloway (earc) review [@DisneyHyperion @mdilloway]

Xander and the Dream Thief (Momotaro #2)
Disney Hyperion
April 18, 2017
352 pages
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Xander Miyamoto should be feeling great. It's the beginning of summer vacation, his mother has returned from a long absence, and he has learned that he is a warrior with special powers. Xander never would have guessed that the old Japanese folktale about Momotaro, the hero who sprang from a peach pit, was real, much less part of his own heritage.

But instead of reveling in his recent victory against the oni, monsters bent on creating chaos, Xander is feeling resentful. What took his mother so long to come back? Why does his father insist on ruining the summer with study and training? And why is Xander plagued by nightmares every night? Maybe this whole Momotaro thing is overrated.

Xander's grandmother gives him a special baku charm to use to chase his nightmares away. He just has to be careful not to rely on it too much. If he does, the baku will not only take his dreams, but those of everyone in the house, forever. Without dreams, there is no hope, no motivation, no imagination, no Momotaro. And then it would be far too easy for Ozuno, king of the oni, to wreak havoc. . . .

On his second quest, Xander explores new surreal landscapes, encounters more strange and dangerous creatures, and faces even higher stakes as he learns whether or not he has what it takes to be Momotaro.

Margaret Dilloway's second Middle Grade novel, after last year's Xander and the Lost Island of Monsters is the second book in the Momotaro series. Xander knows about his special powers, about the threat of the oni, and has his mother back.  Add in that it's summer break and everything should be fantastic for the twelve-year-old, right?

Not so much. His mother was gone for most of his life and no one seems angry with her for her absence - no one but Xander. The threat of the oni is ever-present, his father insists on grueling training and, to top it all of, Xander's having nightmares.

When his grandmother gives him a charm to help, it seems like the perfect solution. Until Xander doesn't heed her warnings and things go very, very wrong. Now it's up to him to fix things and save everyone.

I really loved how Xander and the Dream Thief used Japanese folklore and ancient stories to create the magical world and beings that Xander encounters. Though they were from different tales, author Margaret Dilloway worked them all together very well. Each played a part in Xander's tale but also helped connect the elements of his quest and create a full, rich journey.

There are times that wiser characters give Xander bits of sage advice but how he reacts to them really made him feel his age. Yet, if/when those pieces of advice made sense to him or he realized their validity, he was willing to embrace them. His initial reaction paired with the later one made things feel more real. (And his needing to get to a place where he could accept the words and fully grasp them, gave them that much more weight.)

You can read Xander and the Dream Thief without first reading Xander and the Lost Island of Monsters (I did) because there is enough recap of what happened in that book to catch you up and to follow the new story. I would suggest reading the first book, though. You will have a better understanding of the characters, their relationships and what they experienced. Plus, if this book is anything to go by, it will be a fun, enjoyable read.

Xander and the Dream Thief is out today so go get yourself a copy!

thank you to the publisher for my copy to review

Monday, April 17, 2017

Famous In Love [#FamousInLove @FamousInLoveTV]

I missed Friday's book trailer post so here's a trailer(ish) that isn't for a book, but is for a TV show based on one!

Famous In Love will premiere on Freeform on April 18th (that's tomorrow, Tuesday) at 9/8c after Pretty Little Liars -- and all of the episodes will be streaming online after that.

The show's description (via IMDb): 

A college student's big break in a Hollywood blockbuster leaves her navigating through an undeniable chemistry, and uncovering the truth about a missing popstar.

and the Goodreads description for Famous In Love (#1) by Rebecca Serle:

The romantic story of a girl who gets plucked from obscurity to star in the next major feature film franchise based on a book and the ensuing love triangles she gets entangled in on—-and off screen.

Meet Paige Townsen, Rainer Devon, and Jordan Wilder…

When Paige Townsen, a young unknown, gets cast in the movie adaptation of a blockbuster book series, her life changes practically overnight. Within a month, Paige has traded the quiet streets of her hometown for a crowded movie set on the shores of Maui, and is spending quality time with her co-star Rainer Devon, one of People’s Sexiest Men Alive. But when troubled star Jordan Wilder lands the role of the other point in the movie’s famous love triangle, Paige’s crazy new life gets even crazier.

In this coming-of-age romance inspired by the kind of celeb hookups that get clever nicknames and a million page views, Paige must figure out who she is – and who she wants – while the whole world watches.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Perfect ~ Cecelia Ahern (earc) review {@FeiwelFriends @Cecelia_Ahern]

Perfect (Flawed #2)
Feiwel & Friends
April 04, 2017
352 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

** Review of Flawed #1 Flawed **

Celestine North lives in a society that demands perfection. After she was branded Flawed by a morality court, Celestine's life has completely fractured--all her freedoms gone.

Since Judge Crevan has declared her the number one threat to the public, she has been a ghost, on the run with Carrick--the only person she can trust.

But Celestine has a secret--one that could bring the entire Flawed system crumbling to the ground. A secret that has already caused countless people to go missing.

Judge Crevan is gaining the upper hand, and time is running out for Celestine. With tensions building, Celestine must make a choice: save just herself or to risk her life to save all Flawed people.

And, most important of all, can she prove that to be human in itself is to be Flawed?

Perfect is a great conclusion to the story started in Flawed. Readers now know about the Guild, about being Flawed and what happened to Celestine . . . now it's time to find out what that will all mean and if things will continue on or if there will be change.

I had a hard time being certain of just how much time had passed from Flawed to Perfect (it's mentioned a few times but felt contradictory), but it has not been very long at all. Just weeks or months ago Celestine was the gifted math student who had everything all planned out and knew just what her future held. Until that day on the bus. Now, as the most Flawed person in history, Celestine's life is completely different.

The division of the story between the two books was really nicely done. We got Celestine's personal tale and introduced to the Flawed system in Flawed and now we can see the bigger picture and what the future might (or could) hold in Perfect.

Celestine lives in the fictional, but very real feeling country of Humming. Recent international political events/developments/elections give Perfect even more of a timely feel. They also make it even more thought provoking. From the way that Crevan feels about the Flawed, about the Guild and how the Vital party feel about the same things to how individual people react or don't, I could see more parallels to real life this time. (Whether it's because they were more present in the narrative or because of what's happening in the world, I don't know.)

I also found myself thinking about the larger implications of such a system, or such a society. What it would mean for a person in x situation or at x time in their lives. It definitely had me curious.

I loved that while the book takes on the whole Flawed system and what society has developed (or devolved) into, it was still very much about Celestine, her thoughts and feelings and decisions and her safety. She wasn't that One Girl Mysteriously Chosen For No Reason To Save Us All, but - for a very specific reason - was central to things and important on a grander scale.

Perfect does a great job giving us a deeper look at Celestine's character, her past and who she really is while also showing us more of society, of the Flawed and of the national mindset. It really manages to give us the 'big picture' and great characters.

review copy received from publisher, via NetGalley

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The Dead inside ~ Cyndy Drew Etler (earc) review [@SourcebooksFire @cdetler]

The Dead Inside
Sourcebooks Fire
April 04, 2017
288 pages
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For readers of Girl Interrupted and Tweak, Cyndy Etler's gripping memoir gives readers a glimpse into the harrowing reality of her sixteen months in the notorious "tough love" program the ACLU called "a concentration camp for throwaway kids."

I never was a badass. Or a slut, a junkie, a stoner, like they told me I was. I was just a kid looking for something good, something that felt like love. I was a wannabe in a Levi's jean jacket. Anybody could see that. Except my mother. And the professionals at Straight.

From the outside, Straight Inc. was a drug rehab. But on the inside it was...well, it was something else.

All Cyndy wanted was to be loved and accepted. By age fourteen, she had escaped from her violent home, only to be reported as a runaway and sent to a "drug rehabilitation" facility that changed her world.

To the public, Straight Inc. was a place of recovery. But behind closed doors, the program used bizarre and intimidating methods to "treat" its patients. In her raw and fearless memoir, Cyndy Etler recounts her sixteen months in the living nightmare that Straight Inc. considered "healing."
The Dead Inside is one of those books that you want to pretend is fictional, but you know it is not. You want to believe it wouldn't be possible for that many people to act that wrongly, but, again, you know that they did.

The things the author describes as having happened at Straight are things I not only never would have imagined but had difficulty even imagining how they came to be. They weren't things where you (or I, at least) could see the good intentions they'd begun with and understand that they'd degraded or diverged into their present state. These were things that I couldn't interpret some other, more benign, not abusive and manipulative way.

I appreciated that the author gave us a look at her life prior to entering Straight, Inc at fourteen. We really got to see who she was, what she was facing at home, how she was dealing with it, and how it all affected her. It made it even more disheartening or, rather, heartbreaking, when you then read what she experienced at Straight. Even if it had been a 'proper' drug rehabilitation, it's hard to imagine she had any place there.

I loved that this memoir is presented in the present tense. Reading as if Cyndy is currently experiencing these things, rather than an adult recollecting them really gives it that much more impact. It also allows us to really understand her mindset and how Straight, their practices and her time spent there got into her head. (And how abuse had shaped her way of thinking and reacting even before she was sent there.)

It is a bit like if you took The Program, removed all of the nice or sanitized or logical pieces, then made it both worse and real . . . then you might have something almost close to Straight, Inc and what the author endured. Knowing this was all fact made for a troubling read but one I think you really do need to read.

digital review copy received from publisher, via NetGalley

Monday, April 3, 2017

The Inconceivable Life of Quinn ~ Marianna Baer (earc) review

The Inconceivable Life of Quinn
Amulet Books
April 04, 2017
384 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

Quinn Cutler is sixteen and the daughter of a high-profile Brooklyn politician. She’s also pregnant, a crisis made infinitely more shocking by the fact that she has no memory of ever having sex. Before Quinn can solve this deeply troubling mystery, her story becomes public. Rumors spread, jeopardizing her reputation, her relationship with a boyfriend she adores, and her father’s campaign for Congress. Religious fanatics gather at the Cutlers’ home, believing Quinn is a virgin, pregnant with the next messiah. Quinn’s desperate search for answers uncovers lies and family secrets—strange, possibly supernatural ones. Might she, in fact, be a virgin?

What I really enjoyed about The Inconceivable Life of Quinn was that from the beginning we really did not know how her pregnancy came to be, but that the book really was about Quinn, her life and her family and not only the pregnancy.  In the beginning, the Cutlers seem pretty perfect, they have their home in Brooklyn, her father is running for Congress, Quinn's best friend is now her boyfriend, her sister's a cute, mad scientist . . . It all seems cozy and sweet and normal.

Then, when it is discovered that Quinn is pregnant, things go a bit sideways. Not only is she the pregnant sixteen-year-old daughter of a politician, she's claiming to be a virgin. The more decisions Quinn makes and the more she tries to convince others of the little she is sure of, the more frustrating it is for her.

Not knowing if Quinn's pregnancy was because of a night she didn't want to talk about, something she couldn't talk about, truly didn't remember or something else entirely opened some interesting avenues in the story. We see not only the distrust she has of herself and her mind/memory, but whether other's are willing to believe her and the steps they'll go to to find the truth. And what possible explanations people will come up with.

The deeper we got into the story, the more clear it became that Quinn's family was not quite the shinny-happy-perfect one they tried to portray. Both because of the stress they were under and because of secrets and lies from the past we begin to see more who they are. At times it's frustrating, confusing, heartbreaking or worrisome - or a combination of any/all of them. As a reader you really start to wonder what the truth is. Is it one of the more sorted possibilities being banded about? Is it something more ordinary and explainable? Or is it something you haven't even considered.

I really liked how the present day and the mystery surrounding Quinn's pregnancy (as well as the publicity) facilitated seeing glimpses of the past and, in the end, we really, finally understood who the family was and who Quinn was. It was an interesting and unique journey.

digital review copy received from publisher, via NetGalley

Friday, March 31, 2017

The Fire Child ~ S.K. Tremayne (earc) review [@GrandCentral @HarperCollinsUK]

The Fire Child
Grand Central Publishing
March 28, 2017
400 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon


When Rachel marries dark, handsome David, everything seems to fall into place. Swept from single life in London to the beautiful Carnhallow House in Cornwall, she gains wealth, love, and an affectionate stepson, Jamie.

But then Jamie's behavior changes, and Rachel's perfect life begins to unravel. He makes disturbing predictions, claiming to be haunted by the specter of his late mother - David's previous wife. Is this Jamie's way of punishing Rachel, or is he far more traumatized than she thought?

As Rachel starts digging into the past, she begins to grow suspicious of her husband. Why is he so reluctant to discuss Jamie's outbursts? And what exactly happened to cause his ex-wife's untimely death, less than two years ago? As summer slips away and December looms, Rachel begins to fear there might be truth in Jamie's words:

"You will be dead by Christmas."((I changed the font color, but you can still highlight it and read it!)

I loved that The Fire Child starts at '178 Days Before Christmas' and each chapter tells readers how many days before Christmas it is. (That last bit of the book description doesn't actually show up in the book until more than one hundred and thirty pages in and I had forgotten it by the time I began reading, That's also why I semi-hid it above.) It builds the tension really well without actually telling you, right away, why or what. You know something is approaching at Christmas, but not what.

Contrasting that countdown with Rachel's joy over her new marriage, her arrival at Carnhallow, and trying to fit in with her husband, her stepson and her mother-in-law keeps you on edge, just a bit. You want to revel in the happy times, in her new life and how much of an improvement it seems to be for her . . . but you know something's coming. (And not only because I read The Ice Twins and know this isn't going to be a fairy tale.)

The way things unfolded, with both what took place and what we learned of the characters' pasts really kept me guessing at not only who they really were and what had really happened, but completely unsure how I felt about them. None of the characters in this book (not even eight-year-old Jamie) feel like someone you can trust or rely on. I wanted them to find their happily-ever-after, yet I also wanted them far, far away from each other. Sometimes at the same time. It was confusing, unsettling, tense and incredibly readable.

I have read a lot of books that mention being reminiscent of or having the same feel as Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca but this title, that has no mention of it, is the one that most brought the feeling of the classic to mind. The young woman marrying the rich, older man after a whirlwind courtship, then being taken to his grand but isolated home where his first wife died, of course sounds similar but it was more Rachel's feelings, how Nina seemed to be always there, but never a full truth of the whole story and that feeling of something that should - or could - be paradise but was somehow tainted.

I am still not quite sure we got all of the answers or that everything was explained quite as much as I hoped but the ending was very satisfying. It was both what I had hoped for earlier in the book, but vastly different in how it was achieved and why it worked. The characters were full of surprises, the story was tension filled and had so many twists and turns and conflicting emotions; it made for a great read. I loved The Ice Twins (review) and now The Fire Child, too.

digital review copy received from publisher, via NetGalley

Book Trailer Friday [@FaberChildrens @ChloeDaykin]

The trailer I want to feature this week is for Fish Boy by Chloe Daykin and illustrated by Richard Jones:

Fish Boy
Faber & Faber
March 02, 2017
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon UK

People call me Fish Boy. My skin goes up and down like the waves. My mind goes in and out like the sea. They say I've always got my mouth open, that I ask too many questions. But what's wrong with that?

Billy's got a lot on his mind - that he'd rather not think or talk about. So he watches David Attenborough, because Sir David's asked all the questions and got all the answers, and swims in the sea, just letting his mind drift . . .

So when new boy and nature fan Patrick Green starts at school with 'fingers like steel, strength of a bear' and a mackerel swims up to Billy's face, blows bubbles into his Vista Clear mask goggles and says: 'Fish Boy', Billy knows he can't keep it secret, because . . . a crazy talking mackerel changes EVERYTHING.

Shimmering with almost-magic and adventure, this is an exceptional read.

Accompanied by gorgeous illustrations by Richard Jones.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Waiting On Wednesday [@LanaPopovicLit @epicreads @KatherineTegen @KTegenBooks]

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine

My pick for this week:

WICKED LIKE A WILDFLOWER (Hibiscus Daughter #1)  by Lana Popović

“Lush. Delicious. Bewildering. And darkly magical. Popovic has created a world that you tumble into from the very first words and wish you could stay in forever.” —Evelyn Skye, author of The Crown's Game

“Wicked Like a Wildfire was like devouring a succulent fairy fruit—it will rob your time, settle into your dreams, and leave you starving for more.” —Roshani Chokshi, New York Times bestselling author of The Star-Touched Queen

Fans of Holly Black and Leigh Bardugo will be bewitched by Lana Popovic's debut YA fantasy novel about a bargain that binds the fates—and hearts—of twin sisters to a force larger than life.

All the women in Iris and Malina’s family have the unique magical ability or “gleam” to manipulate beauty. Iris sees flowers as fractals and turns her kaleidoscope visions into glasswork, while Malina interprets moods as music. But their mother has strict rules to keep their gifts a secret, even in their secluded sea-side town. Iris and Malina are not allowed to share their magic with anyone, and above all, they are forbidden from falling in love.

But when their mother is mysteriously attacked, the sisters will have to unearth the truth behind the quiet lives their mother has built for them. They will discover a wicked curse that haunts their family line—but will they find that the very magic that bonds them together is destined to tear them apart forever?

Wicked Like a Wildfire is the first in a two-book series. Readers will be rapt with anticipation for the sequel.

published August 15th by Katherine Tegen Books

add to your Goodreads shelf // pre-order from Book Depo // or Amazon


I love books about sisters, maybe especially twin sisters; I love books about secret magic, maybe especially secret family magic*. That this book combines all of that with a sense of danger and a possible threat to the sisters (after a real threat to their mother) has me all the more excited to read it.

(*The magic in Mim and her mother in The Secret of a Heart Note was a great start to that book but this sounds darker and less sweet so I'm equally curious to read about it!)

Plus, I adore the title and series name, both.

All of the elements of what this book sounds like it's about, the cover, the title, it all makes me really eager to read Wicked Like a Wildflower!

That's my pick for this week, what's yours? Tell me in the comments and/or link me to your own post!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Almost Adulting ~ Arden Rose review [@harperteen @ardenrose]

Almost Adulting: All You Need to Know to Get It Together (Sort Of)
Harper Collins
March 28, 2017
208 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

For fans of Grace Helbig and Alexa Chung comes a fresh, hilarious guide to growing up your way from social media influencer and lifestyle vlogger Arden Rose.

In Almost Adulting—perfect for budding adults, failing adults, and eaters of microwave mug brownies—Arden tells you how to survive your future adulthood. Topics include:

-Making internet friends who are cool and not murderers

-Flirting with someone in a way to make them think you are cool and not a murderer

-Being in an actual relationship where you talk about your feelings in a healthy manner??? To the other person???????

-Eating enough protein

-Assembling a somewhat acceptable adult wardrobe when you have zero dollars

-Going on adventures without starting to smell

-How sex is supposed to feel, but, like, actually though

By the end of the book—a mash-up of essays, lists, and artwork—you'll have learned not only how to dress yourself, how to travel alone, how to talk to strangers online, and how to date strangers (in PERSON!), but also how to pass as a real, functioning, appropriately socialized adult

It feels like a lot of Arden Rose's Almost Adulting is about doing what's best for you, really being you but in a responsible way where you still pay your traffic tickets and eat more than Oreos. The book covers things from decorating your apartment to online dating to sex and more.

The strongest parts of this book the beginning and the end where the author is not only helping readers to understand what is a smart way of doing something (keeping your apartment clean, for example) but also providing some ways of actually accomplishing that (change your sheets x often, etc). These more specific ideas keep Almost Adulting from just being another person/book/thing/whatever telling you what you should be doing. (Most who aren't cleaning enough or buying the right things at the store aren't not doing it simply because no one's ever suggested they should. It's about knowing how to go about it.)

The middle of the book seems to lose some of these more specific, helpful bits and feels more specific to the author's life. It focuses more on Arden Rose's life: meeting her boyfriend, the beginnings of their relationship and doesn't seem to cover as much or advise as broadly.

I do think that Almost Adulting has a certain kind of adult (or almost adult) in mind and is geared more towards that person. It seems to best fit someone who had/has supportive parents, who was - at least - relatively financially secure, who is employed, and generally healthy (both physically and mentally). It is still relevant to others but seems to apply most to someone like that. (The author does discuss her mental health and the issues she's faced but sentences like, "Ir's time to understand that you determine yow your body and mind operate at any given time based on what you're fueling it with." [pg 17] are why I say this.)

Almost Adulting covers things you might, technically, already know (eat well, keep things clean, etc) but does a nice job giving some specific ideas for everything from decorating your apartment to finding the right birth control. Whether you're familiar with Arden Rose from YouTube or not (I was not), if you're looking to adult (or just know how), you might want to check out Almost Adulting: All You Need to Know to Get it Together (Sort Of).

(Also? Roasted Brussels Sprouts really are very good, I definitely agree.)

finished copy received, for review, from publisher

Top Ten Tuesday: Authors to Meet

This week's Ten:
Top 10 Authors I Want to Meet 

 Alyxandra Harvey

Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Jeff Zentner

Anna-Marie McLemore

Cat Patrick

Suzanne Young

Annabel Pitcher

Lily Anderson

Mindy McGinnis

& 10 
is reserved for all of those authors I think of just as soon as I finish making this list and realize how much I wanted them included (I'm already at about five)!!

This list is, probably, primarily based on the books these authors have written . . .

Please leave a comment and let me know what authors you're dying to meet - or the ones you can't believe you have met!

Monday, March 27, 2017

A Crown of Wishes ~ Roshani Chokshi (earc) review [@NotRashKnee @StMartinsPress]

A Crown of Wishes (The Star-Touched Queen #2)
St Martin's Griffin
March 28, 2017
352 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

Gauri, the princess of Bharata, has been taken as a prisoner of war by her kingdom’s enemies. Faced with a future of exile and scorn, Gauri has nothing left to lose. Hope unexpectedly comes in the form of Vikram, the cunning prince of a neighboring land and her sworn enemy kingdom. Unsatisfied with becoming a mere puppet king, Vikram offers Gauri a chance to win back her kingdom in exchange for her battle prowess. Together, they’ll have to set aside their differences and team up to win the Tournament of Wishes—a competition held in a mythical city where the Lord of Wealth promises a wish to the victor.

Reaching the tournament is just the beginning. Once they arrive, danger takes on new shapes: poisonous courtesans and mischievous story birds, a feast of fears and twisted fairy revels.

Every which way they turn new trials will test their wit and strength. But what Gauri and Vikram will soon discover is that there’s nothing more dangerous than what they most desire.
A Crown of Wishes is The Star-Touched Queen #2 but it is not exactly a sequel to The Star-Touched Queen. The world is the same and Gauri, like Maya, is from Bharata and like Maya was the Raja's daughter, Gauri is a princess, too. This novel focuses on an eighteen-year-old Gauri, though. there are a few glimpses into and mentions of what happened in The Star-Touched Queen but mostly this is a tale about Gauri - and Vikram.

I loved the world created - or, perhaps, expanded on - in A Crown of Wishes. There is that same magic and fantasy that was introduced in The Star-Touched Queen but now we see different parts and possibilities of it, and through different eyes.

Author Roshani Chokshi has brilliant writing again and descriptions that are unexpected but still help readers to perfectly envision or understand a feeling, character, item, location.

Both Gauri and Vikram were characters who grew on me as the story progresses. I liked both of them in the beginning but really came to relate to them more and care for them more as we learned of their pasts, their desires for the future and how they got into their present situation. They seem quite unmatched at the start but then we see how they can work together. Even while annoying one another.

I loved the fantasy around The Tournament of Wishes and the characters' journey to get there. The characters and creatures introduced there, the rules, what they had to do, what they could do, and what all of it could (and would) mean made for a thrilling, magical read. I didn't really connect who Gauri had been in The Star-Touched Queen until close to the end but once I did, I loved her that much more.

Author Roshani Chokshi has created a wonderful world of fantasy and magic with characters both human and not with whom you will relate and want to succeed (or maybe not, depending). I loved a further glimpse into this imaginative world and those who inhabit it.

digital review copy received, via NetGalley, thanks to publisher

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Really Quite Good British Cookbook ~ William Sitwell (Ed.) [@nourishbooks @WilliamSitwell] #TRQGBC

The Really Quite Good British Cookbook: The Food We Love from 100 of Our Best Chefs, Cooks, Bakers and Local Heroes
March 21, 2017
426 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

What do you cook for the people you love? Asked this question, 100 of Britain's food heroes have shared their most beloved recipes to make this extraordinary cookbook. Nigella Lawson divulges how to bake her Chocolate Guinness Cake and Rick Stein fries up Shrimp & Dill Fritters with Ouzo. Yotam Ottolenghi would serve Pea & Mint Croquettes and for Jamie Oliver, an unrivalled Fantastic Fish Pie. These are just a few of the incredible recipes provided by the best and brightest on the British food scene, including chefs such as Raymond Blanc, Gordon Ramsay, Delia Smith, James Martin, Nigel Slater, Thomasina Miers, Mark Hix, Jason Atherton, Marco Pierre White, Claudia Roden and more.

Compiled by award-winning food editor and author William Sitwell, The Really Quite Good British Cookbook is keenly anticipated and a stunning object in its own right. Ultimately it is a celebration of the breadth, creativity and richness of Britain's unique food culture.

The Really Quite Good British Cookbook is a collection of recipes from one hundred contributors (but more than one hundred recipes). Many of the contributors are chefs, food writers, but the cookbook also features recipes from a food historian, a home baker, a beekeeper and more.

The recipes are organized into six sections: Breakfast; Entrees & Snacks' Fish & Seafood; Poultry, Meat & Game; Pasta, Risotto & Sides; Baking & Desserts. Each recipe is laid out well, providing number of servings, prep time, cook time, skill level (either 1 [easy] or 2 [moderate]), a few sentences about the dish from its' creator and then 'Ingredients' on the left and 'Method' in the center/right. It's a very clean, easy to read and follow format.

I have not yet been able to actually try making any of these recipes but I have read through many of them and their directions seem well written. With such variety in the contributors, you really get a bit of everything in this cookbook. Some (like Shrimp & Dill Fritters with Ouzo or Grilled Skirt Steak with Anchovy Cauliflower Cheese) are appealing and I'm curious to try. A few, I probably won't (Okay, really just the Roast Woodcock on Toast one . . . it's a whole bird roasted, it's head split open, its intestines, heart, and liver cut into a paste and then put on toast and I have a thing about eating things with heads currently on them.) But even the recipes I don't want to try, are unique.

In his introduction, the editor mentions how much is available in British supermarkets, if all of the ingredients used in these recipes are readily available, then I'm quite jealous. (From quail's eggs to fresh curry or kaffir lime leaves to woodcock, guinea fowl or pheasant, there are some things I don't have easy access to.)

The book has a comprehensive index that not only sorts things, as might be expected, by title but by main ingredients as well. That 'Roast Woodcock on Toast with Wild Mushrooms' for example is listed under 'bread,' 'mushrooms,' 'woodcock,' and the title's under the R's. There are website or Twitter addresses for most of the contributors and information on where their recipes were previously published.

A portion of the book's proceeds will benefit The Trussell Trust which runs food banks in Britain (there's a page at the end of the book explaining what they do and why's it's so vitally important).

My advance copy did not feature any images but those I have seen through Amazon's book preview are very nice. They're simple but colorful and really seem to showcase the food.

digital review copy received thanks to publisher, via NetGalley

Top Ten Tuesday: Read In One Sitting

This week's Ten:
10 Read In One Sitting Books
(A bit of combination of the shortest books I've read and/or those read in one sitting - they're all ones I recommend, though.)

This Is What I Want to Tell You by Heather Duffy Stone
review // Goodreads

Monument 14 (#1) by Emmy Laybourne

Kiss of Broken Glass by Madeline Kuderick
review // Goodreads

Zom-B (#1) by Darren Shan
review // Goodreads

My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece by Annabel Pitcher
review // Goodreads

Dead is the New Black (#1) by Marlene Perez
review // Goodreads

Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott

Holding on to Zoe by George Ella Lynn
review // Goodreads

Demon Envy (Kenzie Sutcliffe #1) by Erin Lynn

Zombie Queen of Newbury High by Amanda Ashby
review // Goodreads

Please leave a comment and let me know what books you've read in one sitting - either because they were that short or because they were that good (or both)!
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