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)!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Alone ~ Scott Sigler (earc) review [@DelReyBooks @scottsigler]

Alone (The Generations Trilogy, #3)
Del Rey
March 07, 2017
560 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

Reviews of Alive (The Generations Trilogy #1) and Alight (The Generations Trilogy #2)

In the final installment of an exhilarating sci-fi adventure trilogy in the vein of The Hunger Games, Divergent, and Red Rising, Scott Sigler’s unforgettable heroine, Em Savage, must come to grips once and for all with the perilous mysteries of her own existence.

“We thought this place was our destiny—not our doom.”

Pawns in a millennia-old struggle, the young people known only as the Birthday Children were genetically engineered to survive on the planet Omeyocan—but they were never meant to live there. They were made to be “overwritten,” their minds wiped and replaced by the consciousness of the monsters who created them.

Em changed all of that.

She unified her people and led a revolt against their creators. Em and her friends escaped an ancient ghost ship and fled to Omeyocan. They thought they would find an uninhabited paradise. Instead, they found the ruins of a massive city long since swallowed by the jungle. And they weren’t alone. The Birthday Children fought for survival against the elements, jungle wildlife, the “Grownups” who created them . . . and, as evil corrupted their numbers, even against themselves.

With these opponents finally defeated, Em and her people realized that more threats were coming, traveling from across the universe to lay claim to their planet. The Birthday Children have prepared as best they can against this alien armada. Now, as the first ships reach orbit around Omeyocan, the final battle for the planet begins.
I have never been one to start a book by reading the last page but never before have I been so happy that I do not do that. The ending of Alone, if read at any point except for after everything that came before it (in Alive then Alight and the rest of Alone) would be confusing and disappointing. After all of that, though? It's kind of perfect. Not something I would have ever expected, but so much better.

But you're going to want to read those other pages, too. In the first two books, we met the Birthday Children, found out who and what they are, learned why they woke up in those 'coffins' and found Omeyocan and the Springers. Just when it seemed like Em, Bishop, Spingate and the others might finally be able to survive on this planet they were created specifically for, other threats loomed on the horizon.

In Alone it's time to find out what those approaching ships might want and how Em and the others pan to deal with it. Some of the answers we seem to get early on in the book lead to some even bigger questions that had me questioning things from the first two books; things I didn't realize needed to be questioned.

With the stakes somehow even higher, readers get to see more of who the characters really are what they're capable of, both good and bad. For characters who have only been alive since the beginning of this trilogy, I thought they had been through a lot, but that was nothing compared to all that happens in Alone. The journey the author takes these characters on, from the beginning of Alive through the very end of Alone is really something.

This book, the last of the Generations Trilogy, had me questioning known facts, rethinking relationships, wondering what the characters were capable of, if actions, behaviors, or thoughts were really them, hoping they didn't did, then, maybe, accepting that they would, then hoping maybe, maybe they wouldn't and, finally, very satisfied with how it all ended. Alone feels bigger and grander than what I remember of the first two books, but more personal and human, as well; it's a great conclusion to the series.

digital review copy received from publisher, via NetGalley

Friday, March 17, 2017

Book Trailer Friday [@epicreads]

This week's book trailer pick is from EpicReads on YouTube and explains all you need to know about Megan Whalen Turner's The Queen's Thief Series

Link to the Queen's Thief Series' page on Goodreads

Book #5 Thick as Thieves was released this past May, here's that books description:

Kamet, a secretary and slave to his Mede master, has the ambition and the means to become one of the most powerful people in the Empire. But with a whispered warning the future he envisioned is wrenched away, and he is forced onto a very different path. Set in the world of the Queen’s Thief, an ordinary hero takes on an extraordinary mission. Includes two maps, a map of the world of the Queen’s Thief, and a map of Kamet’s journey

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Waiting On Wednesday [@harperteen @carliesorosiak]

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine

My pick for this week:

IF BIRDS FLY BACK by Carlie Sorosiak

A sparkling debut about love, family, and the mysteries of the universe.

Linny has been fascinated by disappearances, ever since her sister Grace ran away in the middle of the night without saying goodbye.

Sebastian can tell you how many galaxies there are, and knows how much plutonium weighs. But the one thing he can’t figure out is the identity of his birth father.

They’ve never met, but Linny and Sebastian have one thing in common: an obsession with famous novelist and filmmaker Alvaro Herrera, who went missing three years ago and has just reappeared. As they learn more about the mystery of Alvaro, Linny and Sebastian uncover the answers they’ve been searching for.

With humor and heart, debut author Carlie Sorosiak weaves a story of finding people who leave and loving those who stay, perfect for fans of Jandy Nelson and Emery Lord.

published June 27th by HarperTeen

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


It was the title that first caught my attention but then the book's description really made me want to read it. I love books that deal with familial relationships that are somehow out of the supposed ordinary so I'm intrigued by Linny and her missing sister and Sebastian who doesn't know his father's identity.

I am looking forward to seeing how Alvaro Herrera, his disappearance and now reemergence will play into Linny and Sebastian's searches for answers.

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 14, 2017

These Ruthless Deeds ~ Tarun Shanker & Kelly Zekas (earc) review [@SwoonReads @tkshanker @kellyzekas @StMartinsPress]

These Ruthless Deeds (These Vicious Masks #2)
Swoon Reads
March 14, 2017
320 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

England, 1883. Still recovering from a devastating loss, Evelyn is determined to use her powers to save other gifted people from those who would harm them. But when her rescue of a young telekinetic girl goes terribly wrong, Evelyn finds herself indebted to a secret society devoted to recruiting and protecting people like Evelyn and her friends.

As she follows the Society’s orders, healing the sick and embarking on perilous recruitment missions, Evelyn sees her problems disappear. Her reputation is repaired, her friends are provided for, and her parents are newly wealthy. She reunites with the dashing Mr. Kent and recovers the reclusive Mr. Braddock (who has much less to brood over now that the Society can help him to control his dangerous power). But Evelyn can’t help fearing the Society is more sinister than it appears...

"Believe me, if we were trying to be subtle, you would know it."
"Actually that  would negate the very meaning of subtle--"
-pg 164
These Ruthless Deeds is the sequel to last year's These Vicious Masks and you really should read that book before reading this one, if only because it's so good.

There were definitely things about These Vicious Masks, about Evelyn, Mr. Kent, Br Braddock and their powers that I had forgotten between reading it and starting this book. The authors do a great job both throwing you right back into the action, with Evelyn, Miss Grey and Oliver breaking into a Belgian asylum.  As both that attempt and the story continue, you're reminded of past events and revelations either by characters informing other characters or their own recollections. It is a good way to bring readers back into the story without dumping a bunch of information on them.

I was thrilled to see that Evelyn Wyndham, Mr Kent and the other characters have just as much snark and intelligence as they did in the first book. There may be a bit less brooding by Mr Braddock, but you also know it's not going anywhere just yet (and he is oh so good at it).

There were things I wanted them to ask the Society when they were employing Mr Kent's ability, but covering all possibilities or issues would have made for a boring story.

The authors do a great job of incorporating some more of the 'background' of the characters' powers and an expanded look at just what they're capable of with the storyline and the novel's action.

I really love how the characters still manage to fit within their era but several of the girls and women are more outspoken and honest than expected and Mr Kent is charming and but also upfront about the less than upstanding things he does. It makes them that much more human while also being incredibly entertaining. Mr Kent and his sister are two of my favorite characters, I love them and what they seem to bring out of Evelyn.

"Before I met you, I went to brothels, gambling halls, scandalous music halls, all sorts of indecent places."
"And let me guess, ever since you met me, you've changed?"
He shook his head. "No, I just want to do these indecent things with you."
-pg 115

The big 'event' that precipitates the ending maybe still has me a little bit mad? I don't like it but also can't fault it's inclusion because it really fits where the story was going, what had already happened and who the characters were. It also sets things up pretty dramatically for the next book!

digital review copy received from publisher, via NetGalley

Top Ten Tuesday: Spring '17 TBR

This week's Ten:
10 Books on My Spring TBR List
(titles link to Goodreads)

All of the books I picked are ones releasing between today (March 14th) and the middle of June:

 The Adjustment (The Program #3) by Suzanne Young

Perfect (Flawed #2) by Cecelia Ahern

Royal Bastards by Andrew Shvarts

What Girls Are Made Of by Elena K Arnold

Given to the Sea by Mindy McGinnis

Duels and Deception by Cindy Anstey

Blacksouls (Blackhearts #2) by Nicole Castroman

Beyond the Wild River by Sarah Maine

Seeker (Rider #2) by Veronica Rossi

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Please leave a comment and let me know what's topping your Spring 2017 reading list! 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Bad Blood ~ Demitria Lunetta ((earc) review [@demitrialunetta @DelacortePress]

Bad Blood
Delacorte Press
March 14, 2017
272 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

A girl discovers a family secret and a past full of magic that could both save her and put her in mortal danger in this suspenseful novel that’s perfect for fans of Katie Alender and Natasha Preston.

All sixteen-year-old Heather MacNair wants is to feel normal, to shed the intense paranoia she’s worn all year like a scratchy sweater. After her compulsion to self-harm came to light, Heather was kept under her doctor’s watchful eye. Her family thinks she’s better—and there’s nothing she wants more than for that to be true. She still can’t believe she’s allowed to spend her summer vacation as she always does: at her aunt’s home in Scotland, where she has lots of happy memories. Far away from all her problems save one: she can’t stop carving the Celtic knot that haunts her dreams into her skin.

Good friends and boys with Scottish accents can cure almost anything…except nightmares. Heather can’t stop dreaming about two sisters from centuries ago, twins Prudence and Primrose, who somehow seem tied to her own life. Their presence lurks just beneath the surface of her consciousness, sending ripples through what should be a peaceful summer. The twins might hold the key to putting Heather’s soul at rest…or they could slice her future deeper than any knife.
The premise of Bad Blood and all that goes into it is a lot of fun and very intriguing. The main character, Heather, feels a compulsion to cut herself (there maybe should be a warning on this for those who self-harm; it isn't glossed over or portrayed abstractly), even after her stay in Great Lakes Wellness Center. It's something she can sometimes control, but not always - nor does she always wish to do so. There may be a more supernatural element to what she does - or at least why - though.

Adding in her trip to Scotland, the things afflicting her aunt and grandmother, and her nightmares about two twin sisters, Prudence and Primrose, who lived and died centuries ago and it is a very original tale.

I loved that the book really felt set in Scotland. We didn't have characters waxing poetic about the beauty of the land, so it wasn't overdone but it also didn't feel written by someone who'd only researched Scotland. Heather spends her summers in Edinburgh and you feel that she really knows the city.

That we are able to experience things from both Prudence and Primrose's points of view gives readers a better understanding of who the sisters were and what their relationship was like, which only makes some of the latter revelations better. (Or harder/more painful, I suppose.)

By the end, I didn't feel that we knew Heather as well as I would have liked. Her love of filmmaking and who she was beyond the dreams, the compulsions and the paranoia seemed somewhat ignored. As the book was so focused on the here and now, on the immediacy of the threat(s), I didn't mind much but would have liked to know her better.  Her personality does shine through in her talks with her parents, especially. We do learn some great things about her friends and they're a lot of fun.

Bad Blood is a fun, enticing read full of magic, family, Scotland, and history and I recommend it.

digital copy received, for review, thanks to publisher via NetGalley

Friday, March 10, 2017

The Other F Word ~ Natasha Friend (earc) review [@IAmMortified @FierceReads @fsgbooks]

The Other F Word
Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
March 07, 2017
336 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

A fresh, humorous, and timely YA novel about two teens conceived via in vitro fertilization who go in search for answers about their donor.

Milo has two great moms, but he's never known what it's like to have a dad. When Milo's doctor suggests asking his biological father to undergo genetic testing to shed some light on Milo's extreme allergies, he realizes this is a golden opportunity to find the man he's always wondered about.

Hollis's mom Leigh hasn't been the same since her other mom, Pam, passed away seven years ago. But suddenly, Leigh seems happy—giddy, even—by the thought of reconnecting with Hollis's half-brother Milo. Hollis and Milo were conceived using the same sperm donor. They met once, years ago, before Pam died.

Now Milo has reached out to Hollis to help him find their donor. Along the way, they locate three other donor siblings, and they discover the true meaning of the other F-word: family.

Natasha Friend's last novel, Where You'll Find Me was a book I really loved and which had me looking forward to The Other F Word. This really is a, "timely YA novel," like the description says. What I love most about the book is that, like in Where You'll Find Me, it shows us that not all families are that supposedly normal, not 2.4 kids and two heterosexual, married parents - or even two divorced ones.

Hollis and Milo have always known that half of their genes come from a sperm donor and half from one of their moms. The amount that man was a part of their lives (or at least the idea of him was) and how much they wanted to know varied quite dramatically between the two. Milo has always felt more curious about who his 'father' is.

I thought the author did a fantastic job showing readers the different ways in which the teens thought of the man who gave them half of their DNA and the different ways having that unknown has affected them. It seemed very realistic that they didn't see everything the same way or always want the same things out of Milo's search.

Natasha Friend does a superb job demonstrating through Milo, Hollis, Frankie, Suzanne, Leigh, JJ and the others that family is not always (or even often) cookie cutter or what you expect. I love that she shows us characters who are grieving, characters who are 'numbing,' confused characters, hopeful characters, funny characters and loving characters that seem to all find a way to bring their stories and their lives together.

This book really does help its characters and readers to discover the true meaning of family.

thanks to the publisher for the digital review copy, received via NetGalley

Book Trailer Friday [@epicreads @daniellempaige]

This week's trailer pick is The End of Oz by Danielle Paige, the fourth book in the Dorothy Must Die series. The End of Oz will be out next Tuesday, march 14th

The End of Oz (Dorothy Must Die #4)
Harper Collins
March 14, 2017
304 pages
Goodreads/Book Depository/Amazon

In this high-octane fourth book in the New York Times bestselling Dorothy Must Die series, Amy Gumm must do everything in her power to save Kansas and make Oz a free land once more.

At the end of Yellow Brick War, Amy had finally defeated Dorothy. Just when she and the rest of the surviving members of the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked thought it was safe to start rebuilding the damaged land of Oz, they realized they’ve been betrayed—by one of their own. And Dorothy might not have been so easily defeated after all.

In the fourth installment of the New York Times bestselling Dorothy Must Die series, the magical Road of Yellow Brick has come to the rescue, and whisked Amy away—but to where? Does the Road itself know where she needs to go to find the help that she needs?

Welcome to the other side of the rainbow. Here there’s danger around every corner, and magic shoes won’t be able to save you.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Hollywood Daughter ~ Kate Alcott (earc) review [@doubledaybooks]

The Hollywood Daughter
Doubleday Books
March 07, 2017
320 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Dressmaker and A Touch of Stardust, comes a Hollywood coming-of-age novel, in which Ingrid Bergman's affair with Roberto Rossellini forces her biggest fan to reconsider everything she was raised to believe

In 1950, Ingrid Bergman - already a major star after movies like Casablanca and Joan of Arc - has a baby out of wedlock with her Italian lover, film director Roberto Rossellini. Previously held up as an icon of purity, Bergman's fall shocked her legions of American fans.

Growing up in Hollywood, Jessica Malloy watches as her PR executive father helps make Ingrid a star at Selznick Studio. Over years of fleeting interactions with the actress, Jesse comes to idolize Ingrid, who she considered not only the epitome of elegance and integrity, but also the picture-perfect mother, an area where her own difficult mom falls short.

In a heated era of McCarthyism and extreme censorship, Ingrid's affair sets off an international scandal that robs seventeen-year-old Jesse of her childhood hero. When the stress placed on Jesse's father begins to reveal hidden truths about the Malloy family, Jesse's eyes are opened to the complex realities of life and love.

Beautifully written and deeply moving, The Hollywood Daughter is an intimate novel of self-discovery that evokes a Hollywood sparkling with glamour and vivid drama.
The Hollywood Daughter is a fantastic example of storytelling. Kate Alcott uses individuals (and their stories) to tell a/the story that is broader end more far reaching than that of the individual. The 1940's and 50's were a turbulent time in Hollywood and in the United States, from World War II to the influence of the Catholic Church and censors to McCarthyism,

Those are things that most of us are aware of, at least on a surface level but this novel lets readers to see things on a more human level. They were things I knew of but I never really examined for how much the could mean for one person or for one family's life. The Hollywood Daughter really allows readers to personalize some large, known if not really understood events in the history of the country and of Hollywood.

Ingrid Bergman's story and the way pubic attitudes and perceptions towards her mirrored what the county st large was grappling with frame the story well. It is a book about Bergman and Jesse's relationship with her, but so much more as well.  You do learn about Bergman, her life and career but it is't only about her.

The Hollywood Daughter is a great rad about a dramatic time in Hollywood an din America. I loved that this book was not as much about Ingrid Bergman as much as it was about who and what she represented to people and how that changed over time. Using both Ingrid Bergman and Jesse, the journey they each take, their growth, loss, grief, trial, tribulations and successes is a smart choice and makes for a more layered, thoughtful tale.

digital review copy received from publisher, via NetGalley

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Mutant Mantis Lunch Ladies ~ Bruce Hale review [@storyguy1 @CassieMcGinty @DisneyHyperion]

Mutant Mantis Lunch Ladies: A Monstertown Mystery
Disney Hyperion
March 07, 2017
208 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

How well do you know the lunch servers at your school? Sure, they seem like nice people, but what if secretly they are something much, much weirder?

Best friends Carlos and Benny, who just saved their teacher from becoming a were-hyena, have been called upon to investigate the strange goings-on in the cafeteria. Why are the lunch ladies suddenly so grumpy? Why are the girls' meals different from the boys'? And what was that thing seen scuttling around the kitchen wearing an apron?

It's going to require a lot of courage--and more than an industrial size can of Raid--for the boys to avoid extermination in this buggy adventure.

I have to admit that Mutant Mantis Lunch Ladies was a book that I did not know about prior to receiving it in the mail. So, you may not know about it, either . . . but you want to!

Mutant Mantis Lunch Ladies is the second Monstertown Mystery, following 2016's The Curse of the Were-Hyena and features fourth grade best friends Carlos and Benny. This book does reference a were-hyena, that it was their teacher and that Benny and Carlos saved the day, but not much beyond that. It lets readers know that this isn't the friends' first encounter with something other than human, but doesn't spoil that story. (This works just fine as a standalone book.)

The story is told to us by Carlos and author Bruce Hale does a fantastic job capturing how a fourth grade boy might see things; it doesn't feel like an adult's idea of a a kid, but like a kid.

There are a ton of similes in this book and they're crazy and hilarious and odd but not absurd. Each of them somehow really fits what's being described and as a whole they really make Carlos's character and the story special.  (Like "...Shaking like guava jelly on the San Andreas fault." pg 118)

The supernatural elements to this story (and, I think, the Monstertown Mysteries) is light enough to fit both the age range and the tone of the story. (Though so many bugs!) Yet, there's enough reason behind all of the 'why' and the solutions that it makes sense and is satisfying.

I may not have known about this book (or series) prior to getting Mutant Mantis Lunch Ladies but it was a fun read and has me interested in both the first book (The Curse of the Were-Hyena) and the next (Invasion of the Scorp-Lions).

(Also? The cover with its lenticular print is super fun.)

finished copy received from publisher for review

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Bone Witch ~ Rin Chupeco (earc) review [@SourcebooksFire @rinchupeco]

The Bone Witch (The Bone Witch #1)
Sourcebooks Fire
March 07, 2017
400 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

The beast raged; it punctured the air with its spite. But the girl was fiercer.

Tea is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy makes her a bone witch, who are feared and ostracized in the kingdom. For theirs is a powerful, elemental magic that can reach beyond the boundaries of the living—and of the human.

Great power comes at a price, forcing Tea to leave her homeland to train under the guidance of an older, wiser bone witch. There, Tea puts all of her energy into becoming an asha, learning to control her elemental magic and those beasts who will submit by no other force. And Tea must be strong—stronger than she even believes possible. Because war is brewing in the eight kingdoms, war that will threaten the sovereignty of her homeland…and threaten the very survival of those she loves.

The Bone Witch does a fantastic job combining pieces reminiscent of folklore, mythology and history of other cultures (from ancient Greece to Japan to the Middle East) with things wholly original to create its world. It is just familiar enough to help you imagine things but exciting because so much is new.

The asha in this book made me think a bit of geisha who could also do magic and who were skilled in combat, as well; I loved it. The use of rune magic, of glamours and spells, and the different things an asha was required to learn, along with the dangers they faced made for a thrilling, magical world. I liked, too, that the magic wasn't used for technology. That it was all so, literally, elemental really fit with and further solidified the feeling, the ambiance of Tea's world.

How the story is told, with a 'now,' that starts the novel and is then located between chapters, but takes place after the main narrative really builds the intrigue. It lets you in - just barely - on enough that you want to, need to know how things got to that point, while leaving out specifics and keeping you guessing. It really makes you want to get to the end and find out how that beginning came to be!

That said, there are still some things I do not know or do not quite understand. Some was, likely, because readers haven't been given that information, yet but some may be things I didn't quite understand all of. Nonetheless, I am really eager to see what happens in the next book. A lot happens to Tea in this first book: from that young girl, at home,  mourning her brother to the young woman, with the beast on the beach who begins telling that young girl's story. Through her we not only learn about the asha, the different kingdoms, the beliefs and magic of a world with witches and rune magic, but a lot about Tea, as well.

I want to finish finding out how she became the one commanding a daeva on the beach and what, all of what, lead her there; and, I absolutely want to know what she'll do next - and what it will mean.

digital copy received for review, from publisher, via NetGalley

Friday, March 3, 2017

Goodbye Days ~ Jeff Zentner (earc) review [@randomhousekids @jeffzentner]

Goodbye Days
Crown Books for Young Readers
March 07, 2017
416 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

Can a text message destroy your life?

Carver Briggs never thought a simple text would cause a fatal crash, killing his three best friends, Mars, Eli, and Blake. Now Carver can’t stop blaming himself for the accident and even worse, there could be a criminal investigation into the deaths.

Then Blake’s grandmother asks Carver to remember her grandson with a ‘goodbye day’ together. Carver has his misgivings, but he starts to help the families of his lost friends grieve with their own memorial days, along with Eli’s bereaved girlfriend Jesmyn. But not everyone is willing to forgive. Carver’s own despair and guilt threatens to pull him under into panic and anxiety as he faces punishment for his terrible mistake. Can the goodbye days really help?
I am still recommending Jeff Zentner's 2016 debut novel The Serpent King to people and now it looks like I'll have to add an, 'and Goodbye Days,' to my suggestions.

There is something wonderfully authentic about the characters this author creates. After I finished reading Goodbye Days, I kept trying to figure out who Carver or some of the other characters reminded me of, only to realize they didn't; not exactly. They are each so real, so unique and well crafted that they feel like someone you know, someone you could know. None of this book's characters seem like any other fictional character, they're not any kind of stereotype or expected something or other. They're just very real.

The way that readers still get to know Mars, Eli and Blake and to see their friendship with each other and Carver was a great element of the story. It not only kept parts of the book from being too heavy, but really allows you to see who and what it is Carver is mourning. You can better understand both his guilt and his grief when his friends aren't something you only experience as something past and gone.

Carver Briggs is a character I have a lot of respect for. Not as much for what all he experienced, but for how he handled everything. He screwed up sometimes and he didn't have all of the answers, but he also knew that and was willing to try to find them. I liked that he was receptive to new things, willing to push himself and to listen to others but none of it done in a way that seemed not to fit who he was supposed to be. (Plus, there were times he showed a lot more reserve than many would be capable of under similar circumstances.)

The secondary characters - Carver's parents and sister; Mars, Blake and Eli's families - do a nice job showing the different ways a tragic event can affect people and the different ways they can deal with it.

Goodbye Days is a fantastically written novel with very real characters and premise that is pertinent but never becomes an 'issue' book; it's a must read. (Pre-order it now or go get it on Tuesday, the 7th.)

digital review copy received, via NetGalley, thanks to publisher

Book Trailer Friday [@randomhousekids @jeffzentner]

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner (released in 2016) was reviewed here

Zentner's new book Goodbye Days will be out March 7th (this coming Tuesday) and my review will go up in a few minutes!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis: The Untold Story ~ Barbara Leaming (audio) review [@StMartinsPress @barbaraleaming]

Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis: The Untold Story
Thomas Dunne Books
October 28, 2014
368 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

The instant New York Times and USA Today bestseller!

The untold story of how one woman's life was changed forever in a matter of seconds by a horrific trauma.

Barbara Leaming's extraordinary and deeply sensitive biography is the first book to document Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis' brutal, lonely and valiant thirty-one year struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that followed JFK's assassination.

Here is the woman as she has never been seen before. In heartrending detail, we witness a struggle that unfolded at times before our own eyes, but which we failed to understand.

Leaming's biography also makes clear the pattern of Jackie's life as a whole. We see how a spirited young woman's rejection of a predictable life led her to John F. Kennedy and the White House, how she sought to reconcile the conflicts of her marriage and the role she was to play, and how the trauma of her husband's murder which left her soaked in his blood and brains led her to seek a very different kind of life from the one she'd previously sought.

A life story that has been scrutinized countless times, seen here for the first time as the serious and important story that it is. A story for our times at a moment when we as a nation need more than ever to understand the impact of trauma.

This book was published before the author's book about John F Kennedy's sister Kick Kennedy (2016's Kick Kennedy: The Charmed Life and Tragic Death of the Favorite Kennedy Daughter) but I am glad that I read it first. Though the two women didn't know each other and, in fact, most of Kick's story and life took place before much of Jackie's, they did know some of the same people, go to some of the same places, etc. It felt more natural to find out who those people were in Kick Kennedy and to already know the role they played in her life when they were mentioned again in Jackie.

(Though you don't need to know who they are, at all, before starting the book. Or to read one or the other first.)

I really enjoyed that this book wasn't focused on just Jackie Kenendy, First Lady. We meet her prior to all of that, when she's just a young girl in Rhode Island. If you just want a political biography, or to know her role in the life of the Kennedy's, you may not like knowing about her relationship with her father, or boys she dated, etc. It really does help form a fuller picture of who she was then and what she wanted out of life.

Which, then, only increases the contrast you're able to see between that girl, what she hoped for out of life and who she became later, what she wanted from life then.

Through letters, phone calls, conversations, media reports and records Leaming shows us how much being (right) there when her husband was assassinated affected Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis. Having a better understanding of all that she was going through allows you to see the different public reactions, news stories, etc in a very different light. You really can relate to her and empathize with her.

The book includes all of the major (and many of the not so major) events of Jackie Kennedy Onassis's life but the focus is more on her, her emotional and mental state, how and why she did what she did or reacted as she did. It feels like a very insightful biography and causes you to reexamine some of what you thought you knew.

I hope that this author will write more biographies of, either, women within the Kennedy family or social circle, or those of the era.

(I listened to the audio version of this and enjoyed that. I can usually get into and follow nonfiction books better this way and like having the proper pronunciations of names and places.)

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Waiting On Wednesday [@LBardugo @randomhousekids]

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine

My pick for this week:


The highly anticipated coming-of-age story for the world’s greatest super hero: WONDER WOMAN by the # 1 New York Times bestselling author LEIGH BARDUGO.

She will become one of the world’s greatest heroes: WONDER WOMAN. But first she is Diana, Princess of the Amazons. And her fight is just beginning. . . .

Diana longs to prove herself to her legendary warrior sisters. But when the opportunity finally comes, she throws away her chance at glory and breaks Amazon law—risking exile—to save a mere mortal. Even worse, Alia Keralis is no ordinary girl and with this single brave act, Diana may have doomed the world.

Alia just wanted to escape her overprotective brother with a semester at sea. She doesn’t know she is being hunted. When a bomb detonates aboard her ship, Alia is rescued by a mysterious girl of extraordinary strength and forced to confront a horrible truth: Alia is a Warbringer—a direct descendant of the infamous Helen of Troy, fated to bring about an age of bloodshed and misery.

Together, Diana and Alia will face an army of enemies—mortal and divine—determined to either destroy or possess the Warbringer. If they have any hope of saving both their worlds, they will have to stand side by side against the tide of war.

published August 29th by Random House Books for Young Readers

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


I have always liked Wonder Woman but usually this is what I think of with her, the Lynda Carter TV portrayal:

I like that this will give us her backstory, her beginnings and a more human depiction of who she is, what she wants, her family, etc. It will be interesting to get to know who Diana, Princess of the Amazons is and to see how Diana becomes the hero we already know about. (And how much there is that we do not yet know.)

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