Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Review: Girl at Midnight


Beneath the streets of New York City live the Avicen, an ancient race of people with feathers for hair and magic running through their veins. Age-old enchantments keep them hidden from humans. All but one. Echo is a runaway pickpocket who survives by selling stolen treasures on the black market, and the Avicen are the only family she's ever known.

Echo is clever and daring, and at times she can be brash, but above all else she's fiercely loyal. So when a centuries-old war crests on the borders of her home, she decides it's time to act.

Legend has it that there is a way to end the conflict once and for all: find the Firebird, a mythical entity believed to possess power the likes of which the world has never seen. It will be no easy task, though if life as a thief has taught Echo anything, it's how to hunt down what she wants . . . and how to take it.

But some jobs aren't as straightforward as they seem. And this one might just set the world on fire.

Rating: 4 Stars

Book Title: Girl at Midnight

Author: Melissa Grey

Release Date: April 28th, 2015

Pages: 357

Publisher: Delacorte Press



        While the beautiful cover inspired me to pick it up (it also helped that purple is my favorite color :)), the writing itself kept me reading it all the way to the end. The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey is an impressive debut novel. As a huge fan of YA fantasy, I recognize the competitive nature of this genre specifically and how hard readers can be on these types of books. That being said, I am a very selective person when it comes to choosing any novel from this genre and if the book doesn’t hold my attention after a few chapters, I have no dilemma putting it down right then and there. The Girl at Midnight posed no such issue for me though and I flew through its pages much like the legendary firebird from the story. 

For Fans Of:
o   The Shadowhunter books by Cassandra Clare: Although the world-building and magic itself was faintly reminiscent of Cassandra Clare’s books, I thought one character in particular was similar to one in The Mortal Instruments. Jasper, who is described as being redolent of a peacock on more than one occasion in the book, reminded me of Magnus Bane from The Mortal Instruments. Like Magnus, Jasper is downright hilarious and sassy all at once, and he has no problem flirting with anyone attractive that crosses his path. His playfulness with Dorian brought back memories of Magnus and Alec when they first met and I absolutely loved it.
o   The Magonia Series by Maria Dahvana Headley: The concept of the Avicen and Drakharin reminded me a lot of the Magonians and I loved this new spin on magical races/species.  After reading so much YA fantasy over the course of the last two years, the concept of magical species has become tiresome to me, but I loved the bird-like people in Magonia and the two ancient races of magical people in The Girl at Midnight.
Favorite Bits:
o   THE WORDS: Found by the Ala in the library where she had taken up residence after fleeing from her crummy home life, Echo loved to be surrounded by printed pages and towering bookshelves.  One of my favorite bits about The Girl at Midnight was the words Echo was constantly dwelling on/thinking about when a situation reminded her of them.  Whether it was German, English, or Portugese, Echo was a living dictionary and lived for the written word. A girl of my own heart and I couldn’t NOT love her character from the start!
o   The construct of magic: Magic wasn’t ingrained in all of the Avicen and Drakharin the same, which was what I loved. Some of them, like Caius, were able to travel the in-between without the use of powders, because of their magic.  For others, like Echo, the only way to travel required powder and the right gateway.  I’ve never understood fantasy books where everyone has the same amount of magic and no one has the upper hand at any point.  We’re all born in real life with different strengths and weaknesses, so why wouldn’t magic be the same?


Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Release Day Celebration: Hair In All The Wrong Places

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Happy Release Day to
Hair in All the Wrong Places by Andrew Buckley!
Join us in celebrating this new release from Month9Books!
Enter the giveaway found at the end of the post.
 
Happy Book Birthday, Andrew!
 
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What has he done?
What’s happening to him?
And what on Earth is that smell?
For Colin Strauss, puberty stinks. Blackouts, hallucinations, and lapses in memory are the perils of growing up werewolf.
Worse than that, Colin worries he might have had something to do with the recent attacks on the townspeople. He may have eaten a person. It doesn’t matter that it’s someone he doesn’t particularly like. What kind of boy goes around eating people?
Foolishly, all Colin can think about is how Becca Emerson finally kissed him for the first time. Yep, hormones are afoot. Yikes!
But girls will have to wait. Collin better get himself under control before someone else ends up hurt or worse . . . dead.
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Hair in All the Wrong Places by Andrew Buckley Publication Date: June 7, 2016 Publisher: Month9Books
 
excerpt

First, a word of warning …

I don’t want to get too scientific here, but there are a few things you should know before you sink your teeth into this book. I’ve tried to keep it simple enough that anyone twelve and up could read and understand it. Werewolves were everywhere in Europe in the late sixteenth century. Go to a party, there would be a werewolf. Go to work, you’re probably working next to a werewolf. Bump into a stranger on the street—werewolf!
They were slowly killed off in Europe as the true nature of a werewolf is a terribly hard thing to control. Eventually you get that urge to eat someone. And let’s face it; eating people is just rude.
Now here’s the scary bit, the bit that concerns you. While werewolves ceased to be a part of the world, they didn’t necessarily leave it. On the contrary, humans evolved to repress the werewolf gene out of the fear they would be decapitated, shot with a silver bullet, burned alive, or a terrifying combination of all three. What this means is that every single human being is still carrying the werewolf gene. You, right now, sitting right where you are, has the werewolf gene swimming around somewhere inside of you.
Genes are strings of DNA. DNA makes you who you are. You have that werewolf gene inside you. It’s just not active. Not yet.
To fully activate that werewolf gene, you’d have to be bitten by another werewolf, someone who turns into a giant wolf-like creature when there’s a full moon. So fear not! As long as no one has bitten you recently, you’re likely okay.
So why this warning? You’re probably thinking there’s no chance I’ll turn into a werewolf because I haven’t been bitten. That is absolutely true. However, while it’s impossible to turn into a werewolf unless you’re bitten, it is very possible to awaken that sleeping werewolf gene by learning too much about them. This book will teach you a lot about those hairy creatures of the night, so I want you to be extra careful while reading it.
If you notice any of the following things, stop reading immediately:

       - You find yourself looking at other humans and thinking lunch.
       - You start to notice smells you never smelled before.
       - You growl at people instead of talking to them.
       - Your nails begin to grow at an alarming rate.
       - You scratch your head in public using your leg.
       - You greet your friends at the bus stop by sniffing their butts.
       - You begin to grow hair in all the wrong places.
                                    
                         You’ve been warned.

 
About-the-Author2
Andrew Buckley
 
Andrew Buckley attended the Vancouver Film School’s Writing for Film and Television program. After pitching and developing several screenplay projects for film and television, he worked in marketing and public relations, before becoming a professional copy and content writer. During this time Andrew began writing his first adult novel, DEATH, THE DEVIL AND THE GOLDFISH, followed closely by his second novel, STILTSKIN. He works as an editor for Curiosity Quills Press.
Andrew also co-hosts a geek movie podcast, is working on his next novel, and has a stunning amount of other ideas. He now lives happily in the Okanagan Valley, BC with three kids, one cat, one needy dog, one beautiful wife, and a multitude of characters that live comfortably inside of his mind.
Andrew is represented by Mark Gottlieb at the Trident Media Group.
 
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Monday, June 6, 2016

Review: Walk the Edge


One moment of recklessness will change their worlds.

Smart. Responsible. That's seventeen-year-old Breanna's role in her large family, and heaven forbid she put a toe out of line. Until one night of shockingly un-Breanna-like behavior puts her into a vicious cyber-bully's line of fire—and brings fellow senior Thomas "Razor" Turner into her life.

Razor lives for the Reign of Terror motorcycle club, and good girls like Breanna just don't belong. But when he learns she's being blackmailed over a compromising picture of the two of them—a picture that turns one unexpected and beautiful moment into ugliness—he knows it's time to step outside the rules.

And so they make a pact: he'll help her track down her blackmailer, and in return she'll help him seek answers to the mystery that's haunted him—one that not even his club brothers have been willing to discuss. But the more time they spend together, the more their feelings grow. And suddenly they're both walking the edge of discovering who they really are, what they want, and where they're going from here.



Rating: 4 Stars

Book Title: Walk the Edge (Thunder Road #2)

Author: Katie McGarry

Release Date: March 29th 2016

Pages: 426

Publisher: Harlequin TEEN 

            As this book came highly recommended from a friend of mine, Tanya from Girls Plus Books, I had a feeling it would be a home run for me. That being said, I should mention that although I have not read the previous book in the Thunder Road Series, Nowhere But Here, this book can be read as a standalone. From what I’ve been told, two of the minor characters in Walk the Edge were the main characters in the first book but the story was not a continuation of the previous. Having finished Walk the Edge and loving it so much though, I need to go back and read the first book now! I am officially a Katie McGarry fan!
            Walk the Edge promised all the things I love in a good YA romance: bad boys, high school drama, family conflict, and likeable characters. Did I mention rival motorcycle gangs? Oh yeah, let’s not forget those! :) As soon as I read that on the book blurb I knew I had to give this one a shot. I think fans of The Outsiders will enjoy Walk the Edge for its camaraderie between the members of the Reign of Terror motorcycle club. 
            Favorite Bits:
o   Breanna’s Family: Even though Breanna had a hard time being the daughter in such a large family, I loved the family dynamics in this book and watching the change in relationships between her and her siblings. It was also interesting to see the comparison between her family and what Razor considered to be his family, The Reign of Terror club, and how each type of family operated differently, but still loved each of its members nonetheless. It reminded me of the saying, “Blood doesn’t always make family.”
o   The Plot: What I loved about the plot in Walk the Edge was that it wasn’t focused solely on one main issue/conflict in the story.  There were numerous things going on that all played a part in Razor and Breanna’s story.  There was Breanna’s problems at home, Razor’s determination to get to the bottom of his mom’s death, the budding relationship between Razor and Breanna, and the dilemma Breanna faces with Kyle at school.  It kept the story interesting and there were very few places in the book that felt slow to me.

 

Friday, June 3, 2016

Review: #GirlBoss


The founder of Nasty Gal offers a sassy and irreverent manifesto for ambitious young women

At seventeen, Sophia Amoruso decided to forgo continuing education to pursue a life of hitchhiking, dumpster diving, and petty thievery. Now, at twenty-nine, she is the Founder, CEO, and Creative Director of Nasty Gal, a $100+ million e-tailer that draws A-list publicity and rabid fans for its leading-edge fashion and provocative online persona. Her story is extraordinary—and only part of the appeal of #GIRLBOSS.

This aspirational book doesn’t patronize young women the way many business experts do. Amoruso shows readers how to channel their passion and hard work, while keeping their insecurities from getting in the way. She offers straight talk about making your voice heard and doing meaningful work.

She’s proof that you can be a huge success without giving up your spirit of adventure or distinctive style. As she writes, "I have three pieces of advice I want you to remember: Don’t ever grow up. Don’t become a bore. Don’t let The Man get to you. OK? Cool. Then let’s do this.”


Rating: 5 Stars

Book Title: #GirlBoss

Author: Sophia Amoruso

Release Date: May 6th, 2014

Pages: 256

Publisher: Portfolio

 

 
            I followed Sophia Amoruso’s every movement in high school when I was still obsessed with the fashion industry and determined to go to school for a degree in business fashion. Since then, I’ve continued to follow Sophia and her company, Nasty Gal, with the same fascination I had as a teenager, but my dreams have changed a bit. I am still a fashion fanatic, don’t get me wrong, and my closet is my happy place, but I no longer want to pursue a degree in the same field. That being said, I still put #GirlBoss on my TBR the second I heard about it because I couldn’t wait to read the story behind Nasty Gal.
            For those of you who haven’t heard of this brand, the best way I can describe it is: unapologetically uncool.  And that’s what’s so flipping cool about this company.  Sophia’s story is unique, because unlike most people in the fashion community, she didn’t go to school for fashion, and she doesn’t have an “in” in the industry (try saying that five times fast).  Nasty Gal all started when Sophia had been through countless jobs and was dumpster diving to make a living and find food.  The clothes she found at thrift stores were vintage and she began selling them on eBay. 
            What I loved about #GirlBoss was that it is evident Sophia wrote the entire thing herself, no ghostwriters or outside help needed. There’s no impersonating Sophia’s quirk, and her writing in this book is extremely reflective of her attitude and self.  For someone without a college degree (and very little high school), Sophia is by far one of the wittiest and brightest writers I know.  Her writing, while exquisite and remarkable, is also downright informal at the same time.  This combination is what made reading #GirlBoss so enjoyable.  One minute, I had my dictionary out next to me to look up a half dozen words Sophia used that I had no clue what they were. The next I’m laughing my butt off because she used slang or made a drug reference in that same chapter.  The girls got style!
            My other favorite element of #GirlBoss is that it has some REALLY sound business and life advice.  Whether you’re going into the fashion field or not, Sophia’s book is all about how to market yourself in the work field and how to get that job you’ve always wanted, even if it’s just at a fast food place.  There’s so many ways girls out there will benefit from picking up this book, whether you’re looking for interviewing advice, what to do when you can’t find the job you’re looking for, or even how to handle yourself in a new setting once you’ve landed that dream job.  I also think Sophia’s experience working a lot of minimum wage jobs before becoming CEO of her own company only serves to add to her credibility.  She’s been in your shoes (quite literally, she’s all about that vintage!:) ) and she knows what it’s like to scrape by paycheck to paycheck. But she’s also had the experience now of working in the business world and running her own company. So now she’s on the other end of the spectrum, and doing all the hiring and job recruitment that she was never a part of before. 
            Maybe it’s just because fashion has always been an intrinsic part of my life, or because I am going into business and love reading about successful companies, but I thought #GirlBoss was wonderful. It was an extremely fast read and I loved that Nasty Gal’s business methods are so unique.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Release Week: Memories of Ash

MoA RWB
 
Hello readers! Welcome to the Release Week Blitz for
Memories of Ash (The Sunbolt Chronicles #2) by Intisar Khanani
Fantasy lovers, this one's for you! Love magic, look no further! And you definitely need to check out the awesome giveaway found below.
 
Happy Book Birthday Intisar!
Let's celebrate everyone!!
 
MoA Cover
 
In the year since she cast her sunbolt, Hitomi has recovered only a handful of memories. But the truths of the past have a tendency to come calling, and an isolated mountain fastness can offer only so much shelter. When the High Council of Mages summons Brigit Stormwind to stand trial for treason, Hitomi knows her mentor won’t return—not with Arch Mage Blackflame behind the charges.
Armed only with her magic and her wits, Hitomi vows to free her mentor from unjust imprisonment. She must traverse spell-cursed lands and barren deserts, facing powerful ancient enchantments and navigating bitter enmities, as she races to reach the High Council. There, she reunites with old friends, planning a rescue equal parts magic and trickery. If she succeeds, Hitomi will be hunted the rest of her life. If she fails, she’ll face the ultimate punishment: enslavement to the High Council, her magic slowly drained until she dies.
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Title: Memories of Ash Series: The Sunbolt Chronicles, Book Two Author: Intisar Khanani Cover Designer: Jenny Zemanek Genre: Young Adult Fantasy Release Date: May 30, 2016 Publisher: Purple Monkey Press
 
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excerpt
I start forward, my eyes on the bundle ahead of us. I cannot quite make out what it is. Something sticks out from the bulk of it, reaching across the floor like an errant branch, dried twigs.

Filled with foreboding, I draw closer, straining to make out the thing in the light of the glowstone. The mage slows beside me. My throat closes up. I stare, frozen mid-step, at the shape stretched out before me: a body that is nothing more than papery skin curled over the brittle bones within. A mummified corpse, preserved by the endless heat, untouched by nature, its clothing long since dissolved away. Its bones protrude obscenely: each rib tracing a line around its chest, the pelvic and hip bones encased so tightly in skin that the gaps, the natural spaces formed by the bone, seem translucent, as if the light were shining through thin parchment.

My stomach tightens into a ball. I swallow hard, forcing down the bile in my throat. The skull bears no expression, dull teeth showing through leathery lips, the eyes long since shriveled away. But that hand, outstretched... A plea. Or a single, hopeless attempt to escape death.

Beside me, the mage breathes a curse.

 
OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES:
 
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The winding streets and narrow alleys of Karolene hide many secrets, and Hitomi is one of them. Orphaned at a young age, Hitomi has learned to hide her magical aptitude and who her parents really were. Most of all, she must conceal her role in the Shadow League, an underground movement working to undermine the powerful and corrupt Arch Mage Wilhelm Blackflame.
When the League gets word that Blackflame intends to detain—and execute—a leading political family, Hitomi volunteers to help the family escape. But there are more secrets at play than Hitomi’s, and much worse fates than execution. When Hitomi finds herself captured along with her charges, it will take everything she can summon to escape with her life.
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About-the-Author2
Intisar Khanani
 
Intisar Khanani grew up a nomad and world traveler. Born in Wisconsin, she has lived in five different states as well as in Jeddah on the coast of the Red Sea. She first remembers seeing snow on a wintry street in Zurich, Switzerland, and vaguely recollects having breakfast with the orangutans at the Singapore Zoo when she was five. She currently resides in Cincinnati, Ohio, with her husband and two young daughters.
Until recently, Intisar wrote grants and developed projects to address community health with the Cincinnati Health Department, which was as close as she could get to saving the world. Now she focuses her time on her two passions: raising her family and writing fantasy. Intisar's current projects include a companion trilogy to Thorn, following the heroine introduced in her free short story The Bone Knife, and The Sunbolt Chronicles, an epic series following a street thief with a propensity to play hero when people need saving, and her nemesis, a dark mage intent on taking over the Eleven Kingdoms.
 
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Complete the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win!
 
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