ARC Review: Beanstalker and Other Hilarious Scarytales by Kiersten White

28822458Beanstalker and Other Hilarious Scarytales by Kiersten White

Expected publication: July 25th 2017 by Scholastic

Once upon a time, a girl skipped into the forest and became a zombie.

Wait, no, that’s not how this story is supposed to go. Let’s try again.

Once upon a time, a boy did a horrible job as a sheep-sitter and burned his tongue on stolen pie.

No, children in these stories are always good and virtuous. From the top.

Once upon a time, a king and queen tried to find a princess for their son to marry, and he wound up fleeing from a group of very hairy vampires.

Hmmm…

What about, once upon a time, a bunch of fairy tales got twisted around to be completely hilarious, a tiny bit icky, and delightfully spooky scarytales… in other words, exactly what fairy tales were meant to be. Grab some flaming torches, maybe don’t accept that bowl of pease porridge, and get ready for a wickedly fun ride with acclaimed author Kiersten White and fairy tales like you’ve never heard them before.

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I was sent an ARC copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

This was such a fun read. I really loved the creativity and writing style. The concept was a lot of fun and I think young readers will really enjoy it. The Princess and the…Pea? was probably my favorite of all the stories and I even laughed out loud while reading it.
I don’t know if this really appeals to an older audience but I think middle school and elementary readers would really enjoy this book.

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Review: The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

30653853The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

Published April 11th 2017

Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love. No matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. If Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.

There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker, Reid. He’s a chubby Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him.

Right?

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I’d seen so much hype around this book and I was a little hesitant to pick it up because of that. I haven’t read Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda so I wasn’t familiar with the author and didn’t know what to expect. I tried to not have a really high hopes going into this book but the hype definitely got to me.
I really loved how cute this book was. It was a great mix of fun, cute contemporary and dealing with serious issues. The main character, Molly, has anxiety and I really appreciated the representation. I personally felt like it was an accurate representation and it helped me relate to the main character a lot.
I loved the writing style. I think the writing is my favorite part about this book. There was just something about how Becky described everything that blew me away. It was so wonderfully written.
This is book is also really diverse (anxiety disorder, lots of PoC, LBGTQ) so that was pretty great.
The only thing that hindered me from giving this book 5 stars was the lack of emotional investment I had in The Upside of Unrequited. Even though I loved the writing and liked the characters, I couldn’t really become emotionally invested. I had a hard time loving Molly because the whole thing with her crushes was a little annoying to me. It felt repetitive and a lot like puppy love.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I loved the writing style, diversity, and anxiety disorder representation. And even though I wasn’t completely emotionally invested in the characters, I still really liked them. If you’re looking for a great contemporary, I’d recommend The Upside of Unrequited.

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Blog Tour: The Shadow Sister by Lucinda Riley

30969271The Shadow Sister (The Seven Sisters #3) by Lucinda Riley

Expected publication: April 25th 2017 by Atria Books

Travel through the lush English countryside and explore the magnificent estates of the British aristocracy in this next spellbinding love story in The Seven Sisters series by #1 internationally bestselling author Lucinda Riley.

Star D’Aplièse is at a crossroads in her life after the sudden death of her beloved father—the elusive billionaire, affectionately called Pa Salt by his six daughters, all adopted from across the four corners of the world. He has left each of them a clue to her true heritage, and Star nervously decides to follow hers, which leads her to an antiquarian bookshop in London, and the start of a whole new world.

A hundred years earlier, headstrong and independent Flora MacNichol vows she will never marry. She is happy and secure in her home in England’s picturesque Lake District—just a stone’s throw away from the residence of her childhood idol, Beatrix Potter—when machinations lead her to London, and the home of one of Edwardian society’s most notorious society hostesses, Alice Keppel. Flora is torn between passionate love and her duty to her family, but finds herself a pawn in a larger game. That is, until a meeting with a mysterious gentleman unveils the answers that Flora has been searching for her whole life…

As Star learns more of Flora’s incredible journey, she too goes on a voyage of discovery, finally stepping out of the shadow of her sister and opening herself up to the possibility of love.

The Shadow Sister is the third in the sweeping Seven Sisters series, “soaked in glamour and romance” (Daily Mail) and perfect for fans of Downton Abbey and the novels of Kate Morton.

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I was sent an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Even though this is the third installment, I heard it could be read on its own so that’s what I did. That being said, I definitely want to go back and read the first two books.

I enjoyed this book so much! It was so incredibly well written. It almost read like a film in an odd (yet wonderful) way. It was descriptive without getting caught up in the details and making the story drag.
I really loved the setting. This is one of my favorite historical fictions that I’ve read.
I wasn’t a big fan of the main character, Star, but I thought she had some really great character development. It wasn’t a massive change but it was really well written development.

Overall, this is such a fun read and I really enjoyed it. It’s amazingly well written and I can’t wait to go back to read the first two books. If you’re looking for a historical fiction, I definitely recommend picking this book up.

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Order The Shadow Sister:

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TELEVISION SERIES

The Seven Sisters series has been optioned to be adapted for television by Raffaella de Laurentiis’s company Raffaella Productions. Daughter of legendary filmmaker Dino de Laurentiis, Raffaella has worked as a producer and studio executive in film and television for decades, including well-known projects like Conan the Barbarian and Conan the Destroyer starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, The Forbidden Kingdom starring Jackie Chan, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, and Dragonheart and its sequels.

About the author

Lucinda Riley

Lucinda Riley is the #1 internationally bestselling author of sixteen novels, including The Seven Sisters and The Storm Sister. Her books have sold more than eight million copies in thirty four languages. Lucinda lives with her husband and four children on the North Norfolk coast in England and West Cork, Ireland. Visit her online at LucindaRiley.com

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Blog Tour + Giveaway: Alex and Eliza by Melissa de la Cruz

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Alex and Eliza: A Love Story by Melissa de la Cruz

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Witches of East End and The Descendants comes the love story of young Alexander Hamilton and Eliza Schuyler.

1777. Albany, New York.

As battle cries of the American Revolution echo in the distance, servants flutter about preparing for one of New York society’s biggest events: the Schuylers’ grand ball. Descended from two of the oldest and most distinguished bloodlines in New York, the Schuylers are proud to be one of their fledgling country’s founding families, and even prouder still of their three daughters—Angelica, with her razor-sharp wit; Peggy, with her dazzling looks; and Eliza, whose beauty and charm rival that of both her sisters, though she’d rather be aiding the colonists’ cause than dressing up for some silly ball.

Still, she can barely contain her excitement when she hears of the arrival of one Alexander Hamilton, a mysterious, rakish young colonel and General George Washington’s right-hand man. Though Alex has arrived as the bearer of bad news for the Schuylers, he can’t believe his luck—as an orphan, and a bastard one at that—to be in such esteemed company. And when Alex and Eliza meet that fateful night, so begins an epic love story that would forever change the course of American history.

In the pages of Alex and Eliza, #1 New York Times bestselling author Melissa de la Cruz brings to life the romance of young Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler.

Expected publication: April 11th 2017

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Review

I might be a little biased because I love the Hamilton musical so much but I really enjoyed Alex and Eliza. Musical aside, I thought this was such a fun historical fiction and you don’t have to be a fan of the Hamilton musical to enjoy this book.
I wasn’t sure what to expect with Alex and Eliza but this book was actually way better than I thought it would be. I haven’t been a big fan of the Melissa de la Cruz books I’ve read in the past but this was the best book I’ve read from her by far.
I wasn’t totally sold on the love story aspect of the story. It was fine but I was actually way more interested in pretty much everything else that was going on. I know it’s supposed to be focused on the love story aspect but I think it could have been more engaging.
There was a few places that I found a bit slow and boring but I think that goes back to the fact I wasn’t sold on the love story.
I did love the overall concept and the characters. I really loved seeing different side of the characters compared to the musical. This book is different from the musical and is just inspired by it so if you go into this book thinking they’re one in the same, like I did, you might be disappointed.

Overall, I really enjoyed Alex and Eliza. I think it could have better written but considering I’m usually not a fan of the author’s writing style, it was 10x better than I expected. This is one of the better historical fiction books that I’ve read and I think it’s worth reading.

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Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Enter for a chance to win one (1) of five (5) copies of Alex & Eliza: A Love Story by Melissa de la Cruz (ARV: $17.99 each).
 
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on March 27, 2017 and 12:00 AM on April 24, 2017.  Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about April 26, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

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Pre-order Alex & Eliza to get a custom Alex & Eliza enamel pin and a bookplate signed by Melissa de la Cruz!

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About Melissa de la Cruz

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Melissa de la Cruz is the New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times and Publishers Weekly internationally bestselling author of many critically acclaimed novels. Her Blue Bloods series has sold over three million copies, and the Witches of East End series became an hour-long television drama on the Lifetime network.

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Review: Grendel’s Guide to Love and War by A.E. Kaplan

26836918Grendel’s Guide to Love and War by A.E. Kaplan

Expected publication: April 18th 2017

The Perks of Being a Wallflower meets Revenge of the Nerds in this tale of a teen misfit who seeks to take down the bro next door, but ends up falling for his enemy’s sister and uncovering difficult truths about his family in the process.

Tom Grendel lives a quiet life—writing in his notebooks, mowing lawns for his elderly neighbors, and pining for Willow, a girl next door who rejects the “manic-pixie-dream” label. But when Willow’s brother, Rex (the bro-iest bro ever to don a jockstrap), starts throwing wild parties, the idyllic senior citizens’ community where they live is transformed into a war zone. Tom is rightfully pissed—his dad is an Iraq vet, and the noise from the parties triggers his PTSD—so he comes up with a plan to end the parties for good. But of course, it’s not that simple.

One retaliation leads to another, and things quickly escalate out of control, driving Tom and Willow apart, even as the parties continue unabated. Add to that an angsty existential crisis born of selectively reading his sister’s Philosophy 101 coursework, a botched break-in at an artisanal pig farm, and ten years of unresolved baggage stemming from his mother’s death…and the question isn’t so much whether Tom Grendel will win the day and get the girl, but whether he’ll survive intact.

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This was such a refreshing read. The narrative was really wonderful and the characters really made this book special.
Grendel’s Guide to Love and War started off great. Even from the first few pages, I really loved it. I don’t often find books that made me laugh out loud but Grendel’s Guide did. The first or second chapter had me laughing like crazy.
The main character, Tom Grendel, was so well written and such a wonderful person. His father is a veteran and suffers from PTSD and Tom was so willing to take care of him. This book had realistic family dynamics and I really appreciated that.

Overall, this was a great read. I loved the characters and the representation of PTSD. It’s very well written and the plot was really fun.

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Review: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

27883214Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Published January 31st 2017

Whatever you’ve heard about Caraval, it doesn’t compare to the reality. It’s more than just a game or a performance. It’s the closest you’ll ever find to magic in this world . . .

Welcome, welcome to Caraval―Stephanie Garber’s sweeping tale of two sisters who escape their ruthless father when they enter the dangerous intrigue of a legendary game.

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

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This is one of the most interesting and creative books I’ve read in a long time.
I loved the concept of this book so much. Actually, my favorite thing about Caraval is the concept. I thought it was so cool and different from a lot of books I’ve read.
I also was very invested in Scarlett and Tella’s relationship. As the synopsis says, their father is very cruel and abusive so the two girls are very close in a lot of ways and I appreciated that.
Scarlett, however, is not my favorite character in the world. I thought she was really annoying and she drove me crazy for most of the book. I haven’t seen anyone else feel this way so maybe I’m the odd one out on this but Scarlett kept this book from being 5 stars.
Overall, I thought Caraval was a really fun read. I wasn’t really that critical when I was reading because I was so caught up in the plot which is rare for me. If you’re looking for a really cool fantasy book, I’d definitely recommend Caraval. But if you’re easily frustrated with annoying protagonists, you might want to skip this book.

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Review: Saint Death by Marcus Sedgwick

31145190Saint Death by Marcus Sedgwick

Published October 6th 2016

A propulsive, compelling, and unsparing novel set in the grimly violent world of the human and drug trade on the US-Mexican border.

On the outskirts of Juarez, Arturo scrapes together a living working odd jobs and staying out of sight. But his friend Faustino is in trouble: he’s stolen money from the narcos to smuggle his girlfriend and her baby into the US, and needs Arturo’s help to get it back. To help his friend, Arturo must face the remorseless world of drug and human traffickers that surrounds him, and contend with a murky past.

Hovering over his story is the unsparing divinity Santa Muerte, Saint Death–and the relentless economic and social inequalities that haunt the border between Mexico and its rich northern neighbor. Crafted with poetry and cinematic pace and narrated with cold fury, Saint Death is a provocative tour de force from three-time Printz Award honoree Marcus Sedgwick.

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This was a very interesting book. It was very serious and not really a book to read for fun, if that makes sense. The tone of this book very intense and I feel like it’s more a of an educational read than something to read to relax. This book almost felt like the author’s commentary on current events than a fictional story. And I really didn’t mind that. It was very thought provoking.
I really loved the writing style and I’m definitely interested in the author’s other books because of the writing style. I really appreciated the diversity of the characters and how much Mexican culture it brought to the table. The entire book is very relevant and I really liked seeing a perspective that I haven’t seen before. I was very emotionally invested in the characters and even though I had a hard time relating to them, I still really liked them.
Overall, this was a really interesting, thought provoking read and I’d definitely recommend it if you’re looking for a book outside of the norm.

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Review: See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng

33282947See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng

Published February 28th 2017

A space-obsessed boy and his dog, Carl Sagan, take a journey toward family, love, hope, and awe in this funny and moving novel for fans of Counting by 7s and Walk Two Moons.

11-year-old Alex Petroski loves space and rockets, his mom, his brother, and his dog Carl Sagan—named for his hero, the real-life astronomer. All he wants is to launch his golden iPod into space the way Carl Sagan (the man, not the dog) launched his Golden Record on the Voyager spacecraft in 1977. From Colorado to New Mexico, Las Vegas to L.A., Alex records a journey on his iPod to show other lifeforms what life on earth, his earth, is like. But his destination keeps changing. And the funny, lost, remarkable people he meets along the way can only partially prepare him for the secrets he’ll uncover—from the truth about his long-dead dad to the fact that, for a kid with a troubled mom and a mostly not-around brother, he has way more family than he ever knew.

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This was such a fun read. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I really enjoyed this book a lot.
I really loved the narrative and Alex is such a cool character. His family life is so sad but it was heartbreaking how he didn’t seem to notice how anything was off with his family. He was such a happy kid with his cute dog. I really appreciated how it mentioned within the first few pages that Alex is a POC.
The characters are all amazing and I loved them. Jack Cheng wrote such a fun cast of characters and I think that’s the best part of See You in the Cosmos.
Overall, this was an awesome read and even though it’s Middle Grade, I think everyone can enjoy this book. I definitely recommend this book if you’re looking for an original, fun read with great characters.

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Review: The Edge of the Abyss by Emily Skrutskie

33609175The Edge of the Abyss (The Abyss Surrounds Us #2)
by Emily Skrutskie

Expected publication: April 18th 2017

Three weeks have passed since Cassandra Leung pledged her allegiance to 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 Boa is not the only a 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 the 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?

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As much as I enjoyed this book, I didn’t know until I was 40% into it that it was a sequel. Totally my fault but I’m surprised how much I liked this book considering I haven’t read the first book.

I loved the concept of this book so much. The concept of this book is without a doubt one of the best I’ve ever read. I love pirates so this book was right up my alley and I loved the fantastical creatures in this book as well. This reminded me of Pirates of the Caribbean, which is one of my favorite film franchises, and if you enjoy PotC, I’d highly recommend this The Edge of the Abyss (but don’t be like me, you should read the first book before reading book two).
I was actually pretty invested in Cas and Swift’s relationship and I think their relationship is one of the best written that I’ve ever read about.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I’m excited to go read the first book. I loved the concept so, so much. If you’re looking for a really exciting and fun LBGTQ fantasy series, I’d definitely recommend The Abyss Surrounds Us series.

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Review: Wayfarer by Alexandra Bracken

20983366Wayfarer by Alexandra Bracken

Published January 3rd 2017

All Etta Spencer wanted was to make her violin debut when she was thrust into a treacherous world where the struggle for power could alter history. After losing the one thing that would have allowed her to protect the Timeline, and the one person worth fighting for, Etta awakens alone in an unknown place and time, exposed to the threat of the two groups who would rather see her dead than succeed. When help arrives, it comes from the last person Etta ever expected—Julian Ironwood, the Grand Master’s heir who has long been presumed dead, and whose dangerous alliance with a man from Etta’s past could put them both at risk.

Meanwhile, Nicholas and Sophia are racing through time in order to locate Etta and the missing astrolabe with Ironwood travelers hot on their trail. They cross paths with a mercenary-for-hire, a cheeky girl named Li Min who quickly develops a flirtation with Sophia. But as the three of them attempt to evade their pursuers, Nicholas soon realizes that one of his companions may have ulterior motives.

As Etta and Nicholas fight to make their way back to one another, from Imperial Russia to the Vatican catacombs, time is rapidly shifting and changing into something unrecognizable… and might just run out on both of them.

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I loved this book so much!
Alexandra Bracken’s writing is absolutely amazing and I’ll definitely buy any and all books written by her. She has such a great way of putting words together that makes her books so easy to read without being generic and boring.
As for the characters, I like Etta but Nicholas is where it’s at for me. He’s so amazing and he is the star of this duology for me. I also really liked how new characters are introduced to keep the story exciting and interesting.
I will say that I was kind of confused for the first 80-90 pages or so. It might be partly because it’s been a year since I read Passenger but I’ve seen a few other people say they were a bit confused as well.
Overall, I loved Wayfarer. The concept, the setting, the characters, the writing, everything about this book is expertly written. With diverse characters, awesome action, beautiful writing, and a killer concept, I highly recommend this duology.

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