Category Archives: Books

The Dark Unwinding

dark unwinding

When Katharine Tulman’s inheritance is called into question by the rumor that her eccentric uncle is squandering away the family fortune, she is sent to his estate to have him committed to an asylum. But instead of a lunatic, Katharine discovers a genius inventor with his own set of rules, who employs a village of nine hundred people rescued from the workhouses of London.

Katharine is now torn between protecting her own inheritance and preserving the peculiar community she grows to care for deeply. And her choices are made even more complicated by a handsome apprentice, a secretive student, and fears for her own sanity.

As the mysteries of the estate begin to unravel, it is clear that not only is her uncle’s world at stake, but also the state of England as Katharine knows it.

As you all should know by now, I am a big steampunk fan. But after awhile, all steampunk books kind of seem… the same. That’s why I was so thrilled when I stumbled across The Dark Unwinding. Similar to The Diamond Thief, this series does not have too much steampunk in it, just a flare. Which was PERFECT. The story line itself was interesting, and the writing style was very hauntingly beautiful, that it just… felt steampunk without have gears all over the place.

Although it started out a bit slow, once it really got moving, it was great. It had a fast pace, and it kept me guessing. Some plot twists were a bit predictable, but then there were a few I really didn’t see coming. Having the contrast between the two really added to the story, and made it all the more puzzling – in a good way.

If any of you have played the Professor Layton games – which if you haven’t, I highly recommend them – this was ‘steampunk’ in the same way those games are. So if you’re a fan of those games, definitely check this book out!

I give The Dark Unwinding 5 out of 5 Stars

 

Maddie

The Diamond Thief

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No one performs on the circus trapeze like 16-year-old Rémy Brunel. But Rémy also leads another life, prowling through the backstreets of Victorian London as a jewel thief. When she is forced to steal one of the world’s most valuable diamonds, she uncovers a world of treachery and fiendish plots.

Meanwhile, young detective Thaddeus Rec is determined to find the jewel and clear his name. Will Thaddeus manage to rescue the jewel? Or is it really Rémy that he needs to save?

Okay, when I say I love this book, I mean I LOVE IT. Genuinely the first book Ive read in a long time that kept me captivated the entire time. The writing style amazed me me, and I felt as if I was one with the characters. It has such a unique, whimsical writing style, that made me crave more! The steampunk flare was exceptional, neither overwhelm or lacking. It’s so common for steampunk novels to flop, but this one was great. So much more to it than gears and corsets. Perfect, in my opinion.

5 out of 5 stars, no question!

Maddie

Strange and Ever After

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In the conclusion to the trilogy that Publishers Weekly called “a roaring—and addictive—gothic world,” Eleanor Fitt must control her growing power, face her feelings for Daniel, and confront the evil necromancer Marcus…all before it’s too late.

He took her brother, he took her mother, and now, Marcus has taken her good friend Jie. With more determination than ever to bring this sinister man to justice, Eleanor heads to the hot desert streets of nineteenth-century Egypt in hopes of ending this nightmare. But in addition to her increasingly tense relationships with Daniel, Joseph, and her demon, Oliver, Eleanor must also deal with her former friend, Allison, who has curiously entangled herself in Eleanor’s mission.

With the rising dead chomping at her every move and Jie’s life hanging in the balance, Eleanor is convinced that her black magic will see her through to the bitter end. But there will be a price. Though she and the Spirit Hunters have weathered every battle thus far, there will be consequences to suffer this time—the effects of which will be irreversible. And when it’s over, only some will be able to live a strange and ever after.

Susan Dennard will leave readers breathless and forever changed in the concluding pages of this riveting ride.

Firstly, I think we all know, Susan Dennard is one of my most favorite people on this planet. She’s so amazingly kind, and perfect, and just all around awesome. And I totally fell in love with her writing, and her in a totally not creepy way (and maybe a certain character *coughDanielcough*, but we won’t go down that path right now). It’s so bitter sweet to see this phenomenal series end. And despite the fact Strange and Ever After made me ugly cry, I loved it. It was beautiful. It genuinely was. This trilogy needed an honorable end, and it got one. Susan so perfectly captured the essence of the Spirit Hunters. The character development, was so genuine. As cheesy as it sounds, these books leave you changed. I swear, there were scenes where the magic practically dripped off the pages. Just. Go buy it. It’s amazing. And I’m in no way biased.

Never forget; Aim for the Knees.

Maddie

Retribution Blog Tour

This book has a wonderful mixture of styles, but at times this factor was distracting. This is the first novel by T.G.Ayer I’ve ever read, so I am totally new to her style, and worlds. That said, I did enjoy it! I liked how the angels were not your typical… Angelic figures. Angels in YA have been becoming rather abundant, but they’re a very different style than this! On thing I found rather confusing, is how the “real world”, was so randomly thrown into the story. They’d be discussing something very mythical or paranormal, and *poof* out comes the cell phone! But, in general, that was very easy to see around, and was more of a personal preference than anything else. Overall, I felt Retribution was a very well written, and unique novel; I hope it obtains the fame it deserves!

Title: Retribution
Author: T.G. Ayer
Series: Chronicles of the Irin, #1
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publication: March 14th, 2014

Her name is Evangeline and she is Nephilim.

Evie belongs to the Brotherhood Irin and together with all the other Nephilim of the world she is protector to humanity, protector against evil. But evil has found its way into the Brotherhood. Someone has murdered her guardian and Marcellus, the New Master makes demands of the warriors that go against all they stand for. Demands Evie just can’t carry out.

Evie uncovers Marcellus’ plan to collect a set of special seals, but when a high-level demon reveals the truth behind the Seals of Hades, Evie know there is no way she can allow the Master of the Irin to get his hands on them. But will keeping the Seals from Marcellus cause her to sacrifice more that she should? Will vengeance for her guardian’s death be enough or will she need more to satisfy her Immortal soul?

Purchase:
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About the Author

I have been a writer from the time I was old enough to recognise that reading was a doorway into my imagination. Poetry was my first foray into the art of the written word. Books were my best friends, my escape, my haven. I am essentially a recluse but this part of my personality is impossible to practise given I have two teenage daughters, who are actually my friends, my tea-makers, my confidantes… I am blessed with a husband who has left me for golf. It’s a fair trade as I have left him for writing. We are both passionate supporters of each others loves – it works wonderfully…

My heart is currently broken in two. One half resides in South Africa where my old roots still remain, and my heart still longs for the endless beaches and the smell of moist soil after a summer downpour. My love for Ma Afrika will never fade. The other half of me has been transplanted to the Land of the Long White Cloud. The land of the Taniwha, beautiful Maraes, and volcanoes. The land of green, pure beauty that truly inspires. And because I am so torn between these two lands – I shall forever remain crosseyed.

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False Sight

All Miranda wants is a normal life. She’s determined to move past the horrible truth of her origin as a clone so she can enjoy time with her boyfriend, Peter, and the rest of her friends at school. But Miranda quickly learns that there’s no such thing as normal – not for a girl who was raised to be a weapon. When one of her teammates turns rogue, it begins a war that puts the world in jeopardy. Now Miranda must follow her instincts – not her heart – in order to save everything she’s fought so hard to keep. with the image of a terrible future seared into her mind, what will she have to sacrifice to protect the people she loves?

Dan Krokos’s sequel to the tour de force False Memory is a mind-blowing thriller with high-octane action that will leave readers begging for the final book in this bold and powerful trilogy.

I’m a huge fan of False Memory, and the sequel definitely lived up to its standard.

The one thing I particularly love about this series, is the science fiction element in it. It has some sci-fi bits in it, but it isn’t full out, which can sometimes be overwhelming. It still has elements of the “real world” in it, which makes it a lot more relatable to readers than if it was set in a full on science fiction world. Don’t get me wrong, I love science fiction, it’s one of my favorite genres, it’s just refreshing to have a book with several genres in.

I also adore the storyline. Although it was a little confusing, since I haven’t re-read False Memory lately, I quickly caught up with the plot, and could easily reference to the previous book for anything I couldn’t remember.

I loved how the plot changed from book to book, while still staying connected. I get easily bored with books if there is one villain and plot through out the entire series. Does that make sense? Dan Krokos kept the same main plot through out the books, but changed the main story line for each book, which I really enjoyed!

I give False Sight 5 out of 5 stars.

Susan Dennard Interview + Character Interview + Giveaway

Hey Everyone!

I am VERY excited to give you an interview I recently did with Susan Dennard author of Something Strange and Deadly. PLUS a character interview with her novel’s main characters, The Spirit Hunters (Consisting of Joseph Boyer, Jie Chen, and Daniel Sheridan), plus Eleanor and Elijah Fitt. Plus, at the end of this post, I will be giving away a signed hardcover of Susan’s book!

My conversation with The Spirit Hunters, and the Fitts.

1) If you could do anything you wanted for 24hrs, what would you do?

Eleanor: Eat. I would eat pastries and biscuits and breads. I would eat candies and ice cream sodas (have you seen those? They were featured at the Centennial Exhibition!). I would try foods from every continent and country…and yes, I would not stop eating until my twenty-four hours were up.

Daniel: I’d finally design that mechanical hand I’ve been planning. Assuming I have unlimited supplies and all the proper texts, of course, I bet I could come up with a simple prototype in twenty-four hours…

Jie: I’d go back to China. I haven’t seen it since I was a child, and my memories of it are non-existent, yeah? I’d love to see what it looks like—and see how well I remember my Chinese words.

Joseph: I would also go home. It has been many years since I visited my parents outside of New Orleans, and I imagine they would be as happy to see me as I them.

Elijah: I’d go back to the way things were before. When Father was still alive, Mother was happy, and Eleanor was just that feisty kid-sister I could play pranks on all the time.

2) You’re stuck on a dessert island, but you’ve brought one person, one item, and an unlimited supply of one kind of food. Which would you choose?

Eleanor: I would like to have Daniel with me—

Daniel: Shucks, Empress. *flushes*

Eleanor: As well as my parasol (I’ve heard desert islands can be frightfully sunny) and an endless supply of biscuits.

Daniel: I like what she picked. *flicks Eleanor’s chin with his thumb*

Jie: Ew. They’re gross, yeah? I’ll just take Joseph here, a sturdy stick, and anything with garlic in it. I like garlic.

Joseph: I suppose that means I shall have to choose Jie—

Jie: You’d better. *bares teeth*

Joseph: And I will bring a book on the history of white magic as well as unlimited beignets. Those really are the greatest culinary creation ever.

Eleanor: Amen.

 

3) What is the most embarrassing thing you’ve ever done?

Eleanor: Blazes, I embarrass myself constantly…

Daniel: One time, I tried to play cards, and some Chinese brat cheated me—and then beat me up too. *glares at Jie*

Jie: *laughs* One time, I tried to cheat Daniel at cards and wound up knocking him unconscious instead. Oh wait, that’s his most embarrassing moment. Not mine. I have none.

Joseph: What about that time you fell off the roof of that haunted mansion and got stuck by the tail of your coat—

Daniel: And I had to rescue you. *bounces eyebrows*

Jie: That never happened. And I’ll kill anyone who repeats that story, yeah?

 

4) For Daniel: what is the story behind your hat (which is quite attractive on you, I might add)?

Ah, you’ll find out the full story soon enough—I share my tale in the novella, A DAWN MOST WICKED. Suffice it to say, I used to work on a Mississippi steamer, and we all wore hats like that. In fact, if you look the inside the cap, you’ll see some initials—SQ—that used to be blue thread but has long since faded to dull gray.

 

5) For Elijah: When you were reunited with your sister, how much of the brother she knew growing up was left, versus the percentage taken by the dark magic?

There was almost none of the brother she knew in me then. Necromancy has a way of taking over everything—your feelings, your relationships, your goals… It’s a black pit from which no one—not even the people you love—can draw you out.

I…wish things had gone differently.

 

7) So, how did Susan come to meet you and document your story?

Eleanor: Susan dreamt that she was me.

Jie: And Joseph and I were there too.

Daniel: Don’t forget me. I was quite rogueish and charming in her dream.

Eleanor: No you were not. You were cruel and temperamental.

Daniel: *tugs at collar* Maybe a bit temperamental—I’ll give ya that. But I was handsome.

Eleanor: Yes…yes, you were most certainly handsome.

Jie: And arrogant. *rolls eyes*

 

6) You’re all incredibly awesome, I’d love to count all of you *cough*especiallyDaniel*cough* as friends. What do say?

Daniel: I reckon we can be friends—as long as my Empress over there doesn’t mind. *wink*

Eleanor: Of course we can all be friends. *glares at Daniel*

Jie: Can I practice punching on you, Maddie?

Joseph: She jokes, of course.

Jie: No, I’m not—I punch you guys all the time.

Eleanor: *flushes* Eherm. I really do think I speak for everyone when I welcome you into the Spirit-Hunters.

Thank you so much for talking to me, guys! Especially since I am now an honorary Spirit Hunter. 😀

And my interview with the wonderful Susan Dennard:

 

1) What wound you have done in Eleanor’s situation?

Goodness, I probably would have cried, cowered, and then run to the nearest bunch of people who knew what they were doing. Oh wait…I guess that’s pretty much what Eleanor did. 😉

 

2) Which of your characters do you relate to the most?

Daniel is by far the character most like me. He’s a lot more smooth-talkin’ and short-tempered, but I relate to his past and his goal to be better person on a very deep, visceral level.

 

3) Which character did you enjoy writing the most?

Oliver! I know you haven’t met him yet—book 2 will be out soon…ish—but that wily demon is just so complex and fun to write.

As for a book 1 character, I just love Jie. She’s so spunky, so feisty, and so strong—everything I wish I could be. 😉

 

4) If you could live in any other era, which would it be?

Hmmm…The 1920s have always been really appealing to me. Women were starting to really shift in their roles, the clothes were so swanky and glamorous, and who doesn’t want to go hang out at a speakeasy? While I love the idea of Victorian times, the fact that disease was so rampant—as was filth, sewage, and poverty—kinda scares me off from wanting to live in it. 😉

 

5) When did you first start writing?

I started writing when I was 12. I loved reading, I had a million daydreams constantly running through my head, and it just seemed natural that I would start to write some of those stories out (usually during class when I was pretending to take notes—oops!).

 

6) How should teens interested in the writing industry, get involved with publishing?

I think it really depends on what you want to do in the industry. If you want to be a writer, then write! Write whenever you can, and eventually, when you feel brave enough, share your work with other writers, take courses/workshops on writing, and teach yourself the various tools in a writer’s arsenal. If you want to work on the publishing side of things, then getting an education in a publishing-related field (English stuff works well, I think) will help you get started. Then it’s all a matter of making connections, getting the right internship/job at the write place, and moving up. Just like any career!

 

7) If you could live in any fictional world (could be from tv show, movie, video game, comic book or novel) which would you pick?
Oh my gosh, I’m obsessed with Dinotopia. That book was one of my first real, gut-wrenching loves (and also sparked some of my first attempts at fan fiction). I just loved the idea of all the fantastical places, cultures, and creatures. Plus, I wanted a dinosaur best friend! I still do! If you don’ t know the book, I highly suggest you check it out! I still refer to it all the time for inspiration.

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions, Ms. Dennard! It means the world to me.

About Susan Dennard:

Susan Dennard is a reader, writer, lover of animals, and eater of cookies.

She is a writer turned marine biologist turned writer again. Among the traits she shares with her heroine Eleanor are a weakness for Shakespeare quotes, a healthy appetite for baked goods, and an insatiable curiosity. Sadly, Susan does not get to wear a corset or wave a parasol on a daily basis.

She lives in Germany with her French husband and Irish setter, and you can learn more about her crazy thoughts and crippling cookie-addiction on her blog, twitter, facebook, or Goodreads. Something Strange and Deadly is her debut novel.

My review of Something Strange and Deadly is HERE.

And now for the giveaway….

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Thanks for reading, guys. And good luck in the giveaway!

Maddie

Requiem

They have tried to squeeze us out, to stamp us into the past.

But we are still here.

And there are more of us every day.

Now an active member of the resistance, Lena has been transformed. The nascent rebellion that was under way in Pandemonium has ignited into an all-out revolution in Requiem, and Lena is at the center of the fight.

After rescuing Julian from a death sentence, Lena and her friends fled to the Wilds. But the Wilds are no longer a safe haven—pockets of rebellion have opened throughout the country, and the government cannot deny the existence of Invalids. Regulators now infiltrate the borderlands to stamp out the rebels, and as Lena navigates the increasingly dangerous terrain, her best friend, Hana, lives a safe, loveless life in Portland as the fiancée of the young mayor.

Maybe we are driven crazy by our feelings.

Maybe love is a disease, and we would be better off without it.

But we have chosen a different road.

And in the end, that is the point of escaping the cure: We are free to choose.

We are even free to choose the wrong thing.

Requiem is told from both Lena’s and Hana’s points of view. The two girls live side by side in a world that divides them until, at last, their stories converge.

I have been a long time fan of Lauren Oliver’s writing. So, I was very excited to receive an ARC of the final book the Delirium Trilogy, Requiem.

Though very bittersweet, this book really struck a chord with me. It had just enough intense scenes in it, but it also had plenty of emotional parts as well. It really trapped my attention, which is impressive, since lately all dystopian novels seem all too similar and tend to bore me. I think part of the charm was the alternating POVs. At first it felt very out of place and foreign, since the previous books in the series all had one POV, but once I became accustomed to it, it really helped the story line stay fresh and interesting. Having two differ narrators with two very different perspectives on the situation help you sympathize with the character on a whole different scale than before.

If you are a fan of Lauren Oliver’s writing, this book will not disappoint you.
I give Requiem 5 out of 5 stars.

Maddie

Paper Valentine

The city of Ludlow is gripped by the hottest July on record. The asphalt is melting, the birds are dying, petty crime is on the rise, and someone in Hannah Wagnor’s peaceful suburban community is killing girls.

For Hannah, the summer is a complicated one. Her best friend Lillian died six months ago, and Hannah just wants her life to go back to normal. But how can things be normal when Lillian’s ghost is haunting her bedroom, pushing her to investigate the mysterious string of murders? Hannah’s just trying to understand why her friend self-destructed, and where she fits now that Lillian isn’t there to save her a place among the social elite. And she must stop thinking about Finny Boone, the big, enigmatic delinquent whose main hobbies seem to include petty larceny and surprising acts of kindness.

With the entire city in a panic, Hannah soon finds herself drawn into a world of ghost girls and horrifying secrets. She realizes that only by confronting the Valentine Killer will she be able move on with her life—and it’s up to her to put together the pieces before he strikes again.

Paper Valentine is a hauntingly poetic tale of love and death by the New York Times bestselling author of The Replacement and The Space Between.

Wow. Wow. I cannot express how fantastic this book was. Just. Wow.

There are very few books out there that will leave me thinking for two weeks straight after finishing them. It takes a pretty good book to do that. And this book did it. For at *least* two weeks after I finished it, I was transfixed with it. It left me contemplating so many different things and ideas.

It had great characters and back stories, which is always good. But, wow, the plot twists. I’m usually pretty good at predicting the endings of books, but this one, it had me fully convinced of something that wasn’t true (I know that made no sense, but I can’t tell you what I mean, ’cause SPOILERS). I was so sucked into this book. It took me four hours to read, and I literally did not se it down after I had picked it up because I had to know what was going to happen. The writing was so realistic, at times I felt terrified as if I was really part of the plot, as if all of these things were happening to me, and it takes a pretty special book to do that. It very much reminded me of Jessica Warman’s Beautiful Lies* – which I highly recommend.

I give Paper Valentine 5 out of 5 scales.

Maddie

My Sweet Sixteenth Century

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On the precipice of her sixteenth birthday, the last thing lone wolf Cat Crawford wants is an extravagant gala thrown by her bubbly stepmother-to-be and well-meaning father. So even though Cat knows the family’s trip to Florence, Italy, is a peace offering, she embraces the magical city and all it offers. But when her curiosity leads her to an unusual gypsy tent, she exits . . . right into Renaissance Firenze.

Thrust into the sixteenth century armed with only a backpack full of contraband future items, Cat joins up with her ancestors, the sweet Alessandra and protective Cipriano, and soon falls for the gorgeous aspiring artist Lorenzo. But when the much-older Niccolo starts sniffing around, Cat realizes that an unwanted birthday party is nothing compared to an unwanted suitor full of creeptastic amore.

Can she find her way back to modern times before her Italian adventure turns into an Italian forever?

This was a great novel! It was a quick read, it only took me a couple hours to read, but even so, it really stuck with me. It reminded me a lot of Pam Mingle’s book, Kissing Shakespeare, which I’m also a fan of, and I greatly enjoyed it! Cat was a fascinating character, who you got to know quickly, yet you still saw her personality develop. Her relationship in the book was the most heartbreaking part, it was so sweet. You became very attached to the characters involved. It was one of those books that left me thinking at the end, which are always my favorites. And what an ending, it left of at a great place, it leaves you begging for more! I can’t wait for the sequel.

I give My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century 5 out of 5 stars.

Maddie

Farsighted and Open Heart Blog Tour

FARSIGHTED:
Alex Kosmitoras’s life has never been easy. The only other student who will talk to him is the school bully, his parents are dead broke and insanely overprotective, and… oh yeah, he’s blind.

Just when he thinks he’ll never have a shot at a normal life, an enticing new girl comes to their small Midwest town all the way from India. Simmi is smart, nice, and actually wants to be friends with Alex. Plus she smells like an Almond Joy bar. Sophomore year might not be so bad after all.

Alex is in store for another new arrival—an unexpected and often embarrassing ability to “see” the future. Try as he may, Alex is unable to ignore his visions, especially when they suggest Simmi is in mortal danger.

With the help of the mysterious psychic next door and friends who come bearing gifts of their own, Alex embarks on his journey to change the future. [My review to come after the our is complete]

 

 

OPEN HEART:
Simmi Shergill’s life is a mess. Her powers of psychic feeling are on the fritz, and Grandon Township’s sudden population boomhas brought quite a few unsavory characters to town. She also looks like an over-blown balloon in her size 14 pants, but not even starving herself seems to be helping.

At least she has Alex, the boyfriend who loves her so much he’d do anything for her. Last summer, he even risked his life to protect her from the mysterious boy everyone was convinced wanted to kill her.

Just one problem: she’s not so sure she feels the same way. Is Alex really the man of her dreams? Why can’t she stop fixating on her would-be killer, Dax? Part of her wants to run screaming in the other direction whenever Dax is around, while the other part longs to run into his embrace, no matter whom she’d hurt or what she’d risk.

Simmi’s loyalty is on the line. Whom will she choose—the blind seer who loves her, or the charming telekinetic with “bad idea” written all over him? Emotions run high in the tension-packed book two of the Farsighted series.

FARSIGHTED Links:
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13453604-farsighted
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Farsighted-Emlyn-Chand/dp/0983930821/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1358287159&sr=1-1&keywords=9780983930822
B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/farsighted-emlyn-chand/1106607652?ean=9780983930822&r=1%2c+1&cm_mmc=AFFILIATES-_-Linkshare-_-GwEz7vxblVU-_-10%3a1&

OPEN HEART Links:
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13485266-open-heart
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0983930848?ie=UTF8&tag=httpwwwgoodco-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0983930848&SubscriptionId=1MGPYB6YW3HWK55XCGG2
B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/open-heart-emlyn-chand/1111260242?ean=9780983930846&r=1%2c+1&cm_mmc=AFFILIATES-_-Linkshare-_-GwEz7vxblVU-_-10%3a1&

Author Links:
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5130837.Emlyn_Chand
Website: http://www.emlynchand.com/
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/emlynchand
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/emlynchand

The schedule for the rest of the tour can be found HERE.

a Rafflecopter giveaway