Thursday, September 29, 2016

Wonder Women: 25 Innovators, Inventors, and Trailblazers Who Changed History by Sam Maggs

*Wonder Women by Sam Maggs will be released on Tuesday, October 4th!*

Wonder Women by Sam Maggs. Quirk Books, 2016. Paperback. 240 pages

*I received a physical ARC of Wonder Women courtesy of Quirk Books in exchange for an honest review.*

It doesn't matter who you are or what you do: you should go pick up this book whenever you have the chance. Wonder Women tells about the many inventions and contributions women have made throughout history, and it does so in an incredibly engaging and informative manner. Out of the many incredible women spotlighted in this book, I am almost embarrassed to say that I had only heard of a small handful prior to reading Wonder Women! 

This is such an incredibly needed and important book that brings to light the accomplishments of women in the fields of science, medicine, espionage, innovation, and adventure. I think it is astounding how many women have made such huge marks throughout history, but yet have very little notice - if any at all - in many textbooks and history books! Where were all of these women when I was learning history in my early schooling? For that matter: where are they still?

Each profile was the perfect length that provided well-researched and detailed information about each woman and her impact; there was no excessive rambling or extensive information that could potentially turn away some readers. Also, a bonus to this already great book is the list of resources listed in the back pages that offer an abundance of websites and organizations that girls can explore and join in order to follow their own dreams.

The only negative reaction I had to this book was how disappointed I felt that I am not a part of the scientific community - but fortunately this has nothing to do with the writing or content of the book itself, just my own feelings. I used to want to enter the world of science, but I soon realized that it simply is not something I was born to do, and I excel much more in other areas. Still, I love reading about the many accomplishments that all of these women have accomplished over the years, and I am almost sure that you will, too!

Quite frankly, I don't know I could give this wonderful book anything less than five stars!

You might also like:
The Girl with Seven Names by Hyeonseo Lee
The Secret of Dreadwillow Carse by Brian Farrey
Seven Brief Lessons on Physics by Carlo Rovelli

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights exciting upcoming releases that we can't wait to be released!

This week's upcoming book spotlight is:

Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves
Publication Date: March 28th, 2017
Knopf Books
Amazon Book Depository | Barnes & Noble

From Goodreads:
Blood Rose Rebellion
Her life might well be over.

In Hungary, Anna discovers that nothing is quite as it seems. Not the people around her, from her aloof cousin Noémi to the fierce and handsome Romani Gábor. Not the society she’s known all her life, for discontent with the Luminate is sweeping the land. And not her lack of magic. Isolated from the only world she cares about, Anna still can’t seem to stop herself from breaking spells.

As rebellion spreads across the region, Anna’s unique ability becomes the catalyst everyone is seeking. In the company of nobles, revolutionaries, and Romanies, Anna must choose: deny her unique power and cling to the life she’s always wanted, or embrace her ability and change that world forever.

Sixteen-year-old Anna Arden is barred from society by a defect of blood. Though her family is part of the Luminate, powerful users of magic, she is Barren, unable to perform the simplest spells. Anna would do anything to belong. But her fate takes another course when, after inadvertently breaking her sister’s debutante spell—an important chance for a highborn young woman to show her prowess with magic—Anna finds herself exiled to her family’s once powerful but now crumbling native Hungary.

This Rosalyn Eves' debut novel from what I can tell, and it sounds like it might be a winner! I feel like this storyline walks the line of being too similar to other fantasy books, but I have high hopes that it will be a standout and I'm excited for its release!

What do you think about this upcoming release? What are your anticipated upcoming releases?

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Books on My Fall TBR List

Top Ten Tuesday is weekly book blog meme hosted by the lovely girls over at The Broke and the Bookish

So this might be book blogging sin, but I've never really had a specified TBR list. I have books in mind that I know I want to read, but not normally a specific list of books I intend to read. This top ten Tuesday topic, however, has forced me to think about my TBR, so I decided to put together a few of the books that I am hoping to read in the near future - whether they are because of the fall season or just because I want to read them. So without further ado, here they are!

Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows, #2)
1. Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
 Does this really need an explanation?  It comes out today and it is currently flying through the air on its way to me! (I hope)

Gemina (The Illuminae Files, #2)
2. Gemina by Jay Kristoff and Anne Kaufman
Again: is an explanation necessary?

Dracula: The Graphic Novel
3. Dracula: The Graphic Novel by Jason Cobley, Staz Johnson, Bram Stoker
I've been waiting until October to read this because I wanted a Halloween-themed read, and this seems perfect! I've read the original Dracula, so I think it's time for the graphic novel version!

The Reader (Sea of Ink and Gold, #1)
4. The Reader by Traci Chee
A world without books? I nust find out more. I just picked this up from my library this past weekend, so as soon as I finish Empire of Storms it may be up next!

Three Dark Crowns (Three Dark Crowns, #1)
5. Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
This also just got in this past weekend at my library - why do all your books currently on hold seem to suddenly come in at the same time? I don't know. It's stressful.

Pit Bull: The Battle over an American Icon
6. Pit Bull; The Battle over an American Icon by Bronwen Dickey
I love pit bulls. (Let's be honest, though.... I love all the dogs.) They are some of the sweetest, most playful, and most loyal dogs I've come across. I think reading about the history of pit bulls and their role and stereotype throughout American history sounds fascinating. I really hope this comes in at the library and I get to read it this year!

The Hike
7. The Hike by Drew Magary
Okay, you have to read the blurb for this book on Goodreads. It just sounds so crazy and exciting and I would love to read this before the end of the year. 

The Masked City (The Invisible Library, #2)
8. The Masked City by Genevieve Cogman
I just finished The Invisible Library a few weeks ago and it was so much fun! I really hope to read this sequel soon. 

War and Peace
9. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
I'm technically already reading this, as I made up a little reading plan for myself: if I read eleven pages a day, I will have it finished by the day for Christmas. I started at the beginning of September, and so far so good! It's about time I read this book.

Augustus by John Williams
 I fell in love with John Williams' Stoner earlier this year and have been hoping to read another one of his works for a while now. 

Monday, September 26, 2016

A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir. Razorbill, 2016. Hardcover.  

Sabaa Tahir blew into the book world last year with her debut novel, An Ember in the Ashes, leaving all of us with extremely high hopes for the sequel. I was left with so many unanswered questions and was so engrossed with the characters that I knew I would be anxiously awaiting the sequel. A Torch Against the Night wasn't exactly what I had hoped for, but it has still proved to be a strong, steady sequel. I didn't enjoy it to the same extent that I enjoyed An Ember in the Ashes, but it was still a solid, highly entertaining read - and it had a pretty hard debut to lie up to.

All of our favorite - and not-so-favorite - characters are back, and they are certainly ready for action. Laia, for one, seems to have come such a long way from her initial starting point as a young girl who watched her family get slaughtered before her eyes and her brother get taken away to prison. She is still just as determined to rescue her brother as before, and that is essentially what drives her every motivation in A Torch Against the Night. Laia is not my favorite character, and I think it's because there isn't too much that really sets her apart from other female characters. She's certainly a bold character, don't get me wrong, but she's also rather bland as far as female protagonists are concerned - I wanted a bit more personality or unique qualities that could be attributed to her. I am, however, intrigued by some of the things she discovers she can do, and I would like to know how that will play into this story more.

Elias really gets the short end of the stick in this book with all the shit he has to put up with, but boy is that guy a fighter. I won't be going into details (no spoilers!), but suffice to say that Elias' character is really wrung out and stripped to the bare bones as Tahir crafts an incredibly strong, incredibly well-developed character.

I think the problem of A Torch Against the Night lies in the fast pacing of this book. There seemed to be some major action or event right after one is finished - there's no place to rest. One major high-intensity moment would finish, so I'd breath a little and be ready for a little plot building, character dialogue, etc., but that didn't happen, and instead we would be suddenly thrust right back into high-intensity. It just felt a bit rushed at times.

Despite the somewhat fast pacing, it was still a great read. High-intensity generally leads to being unable to put down a book (though sometimes I just get a bit tired of reading heavy action scenes for a while), which thus leads to a well-moving and good book.

What this book doesn't lack is bluntness, violence, and a lack of fear. There are plenty of casualties along the way, including those we both care and don't care about, and the callous violence that was present in An Ember in the Ashes is just as present - if not moreso - here in A Torch Against the Night. While reading, I felt that I kept catching glimpses of just how strong a Tahir is, and how far she is willing to go with her characters in order to create a startling and substantial book. Tahir is a wonderfully talented writer, which easily shows by how engrossed I was and by how much I enjoyed this book. Overall, I will be giving A Torch Against the Night four stars.

You might also like:
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
And I Darken by Kiersten White
Throne of Glass  by Sarah J. Maas
A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Adventurer's Guide to Successful Escapes by Wade Albert White

*The Adventurer's Guide to Successful Escapes is now available!*

The Adventurer's Guide to Successful Escapes by Wade Albert White. Little, Brown, 2016. Paperback/Softcover. 384 pages.

*I received a printed ARC of The Adventurer's Guide to Successful Escapes courtesy of Little, Brown in exchange for an honest review.*

The Adventurer's Guide to Successful Escapes just released this week and if it doesn't become a major hit, then I just don't know what is going on with this crazy world. This book was beyond fun and I enjoyed it immensely. It is full of wit, clever humor, and quirky aspects that make this an extremely strong debut  middle grade novel. The characters are wonderfully crafted and the plot is entirely unpredictable and overflowing with twists and turns.

Anne, our protagonist, is one of the many orphans living at Saint Lupin's Institute for Perpetually Wicked & Hideously Unattractive Children. Unfortunately, her plan for leaving is derailed and she soon finds herself placed on a epic quest that will take her and her friend Penelope on an incredible adventure. 

The three main characters, Anne, Penelope, and Hiro, are full of life and incredibly endearing. Each has their strengths and weaknesses, which makes them realistic and relatable. The character development was also done really well, and I liked watching each character evolve and learn about themselves as the story progressed. 

Not only do we have well-written characters - we also have some fantastic world-building. As weird as this world was, it felt so incredibly real and I found myself completely immersed in wanting to explore more of it. I loved the quirks and history of the world, and I also loved how unexpected it was. As the reader, you really never know what strange thing is about to occur in this world, so it makes for an extra exciting adventure.

The witty writing the White employs is reminiscent of Lemony Snicket and Trenton Lee Stewart, but is also entirely White's own style. I really loved that this book felt approachable from any age; it didn't talk down to the younger readers, nor did it alienate older readers by keeping things too 'safe.' The tone and style of prose is written in such a way that all ages can understand and enjoy - it's very smart. If my book were not an ARC and I could add quotes, I would have definitely given you all some samples by now to savor.

Since my copy of this book was an ARC, not all of the images and such were there, but from what I did get to see, it is remarkable! I can't wait to grab a copy of the finished book to see how it is in all of its completed glory. I laughed a countless number of times while reading this book, and it truly made for a great bedtime adventure story.

Overall, I am giving The Adventurer's Guide to Successful Escapes five stars. This is a must-have book for any parent to buy for their children, for any teacher or librarian to stock for their classroom library/regular library, and for anyone that wants to have a fantastic and highly entertaining adventure story.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: Crossroads of Canopy by Thoraiya Dyer

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights exciting upcoming releases that we can't wait to be released!

This week's upcoming book spotlight is:

Crossroads of Canopy by Thoraiya Dyer
Publication Date: January 31st, 2017
Little, Brown Books
Amazon Book Depository | Barnes & Noble

From Goodreads:

Crossroads of Canopy (Titan's Forest, #1)
At the highest level of a giant forest, thirteen kingdoms fit seamlessly together to form the great city of Canopy. Thirteen goddesses and gods rule this realm and are continuously reincarnated into human bodies. Canopy’s position in the sun, however, is not without its dark side. The nation’s opulence comes from the labor of slaves, and below its fruitful boughs are two other realms: Understorey and Floor, whose deprived citizens yearn for Canopy’s splendor.

Unar, a determined but destitute young woman, escapes her parents’ plot to sell her into slavery by being selected to serve in the Garden under the goddess Audblayin, ruler of growth and fertility. As a Gardener, she yearns to become Audblayin’s next Bodyguard while also growing sympathetic towards Canopy's slaves.

When Audblayin dies, Unar sees her opportunity for glory – at the risk of descending into the unknown dangers of Understorey to look for a newborn god. In its depths, she discovers new forms of magic, lost family connections, and murmurs of a revolution that could cost Unar her chance…or grant it by destroying the home she loves.

I think what attracts me to this book is both the fact that I've never heard of Thoraiya Dyer and also that the summary describes an incredibly intricate and unique-sounding plot. I am really intrigued by the sound of this one.

What do you think about this upcoming release? What are your anticipated upcoming releases?

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Top Five Tuesday: 5 Favorite Book Podcasts

Top Ten Tuesday is weekly book blog meme hosted by the lovely girls over at The Broke and the Bookish

This week's topic is anything audio related, so I have chosen to share some of my favorite book podcasts! I've only just recently (within the past few months) really gotten into podcasts, so while there are tons of other great book-related podcasts still out there, these are a few that I am particularly fond of and always make sure to listen to. Eventually I will look into some other ones, but these ones are keeping me pretty busy for the moment. The best thing about all of these and my having just discovered them is that there are so many backlist episodes to listen to... :D

Image result for overdue podcast
Website description: "Overdue is a podcast about the books you've been meaning to read. Join Andrew and Craig each week as they tackle a new title from their backlog. Classic literature, obscure plays, goofy murder mysteries: they'll read it all, one overdue book at a time."
Overdue never fails to make me laugh with each and every episode. I love listening to hosts Andrew and Craig tell each other about the books they read and all the crazy ideas and conversations that result. They cover a wide range of books from Island of the Blue Dolphins to The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes to Flowers in the Attic, so I promise you'll never be bored. 

BR Podcast Logo
Website summary: "The Podcast is a weekly news and talk show about what's new, cool, and worth talking about in the world of books and reading, brought to you by the editors of Book Riot."
The Book Riot podcast is one of my favorites because of how varied the topics can be. They cover different book events, conferences, book related news (such as converting yeast from Roald Dahl's chair into beer (???)), and it's an all-around good time. Jeff O'Neal and Amanda Nelson are the most common hosts, and although they are great at discussing the funny aspects of book news, they also do a wonderful job of discussing the more serious aspects facing books and the publishing industry with passion, such as issues of diversity.

All the Books logo featured
Website Description: "All the Books is a weekly show of recommendations and discussions about the most interesting and exciting new book releases."
This is also a Book Riot podcast, but this one specifically focuses on new releases, which is a great way for me to keep up to date with all the new books! What I really like about this one is that they cover both the popular mainstream new releases, but also some of the not as hyped ones that are still equally great reads - and all in a variety of genres -  so I appreciate the wide coverage. 

[Website description too long to paste]
Literary Disco is hosted by Julia Pistell, Tod Goldberg, and Rider Strong. The basis of the show is that the three friends read books, poetry, or essays and then discuss them! Of course, there are always other shenanigans and stories being told that add great entertainment value. Out of these five podcasts, Literary Disco probably holds the most in-depth discussions on various subjects, which is great if you're into some more intense discussion. There are also games, the occasional live shows, and author visits. (Side note: after listening to this podcast for a couple weeks and thinking that Rider's voice was so familiar, I finally looked him up and realized that he was Shaun from Boy Meets World. Go figure.)

Get Booked Logo
Website description: "Get Booked is a weekly show of custom book recommendations."
Who doesn't love custom book recommendations? Each week, two hosts (it sometimes varies) take reader book recommendation questions and give their own suggestions. The suggestions are always incredibly spot-on and cover various aspects of the reader's question. Some of the requests are pretty relevant to my own taste, and even the ones that aren't are a great way for me to be introduced to new books. I often find myself jotting down random book titles on anything that is available - napkins, notepads, my skin...

Do you listen to any book podcasts? I'm always looking for more, so feel free to share!

Monday, September 19, 2016

A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess

*A Shadow Bright and Burning will be released Tuesday, September 20th!*

A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess. Random House, 2016. Paperback/Softcover. 416 pages.

*I received a printed ARC of A Shadow Bright and Burning courtesy of Random House in exchange for an honest review.*

Jessica Cluess' debut novel begins the story of Henrietta Howel, who is believed to be the first, prophesied female sorcerer, a rare quality in the male-dominated world of magicians. As Henrietta begins her training to become a fully-fledged sorcerer, she starts to struggle and second-guess whether she even is the prophesied one.

A Shadow Bright and Burning felt both unique and familiar. The overall idea of a protagonist discovering their powers and traveling to a 'school' to learn more with other, more advanced pupils seem like an age-old tale (but I suppose it is popular for a reason). However, the ideas and magic system created feel fresh, and I truly enjoyed reading about every aspect.

As mentioned, I am a huge fan of this magic system. It felt very concrete (well, for the most part) and it had 'rules' that overall actually made sense. I liked that there was such a huge difference between what magicians and sorcerers are, and the explanations were fascinating. For instance, magicians create conduits of power with the elements, whereas sorcerers merely act as conductors and  alter/etc. the elements. This also perfectly sets up the background for why magicians are inherently seen as being more evil, as they can sort of create their own catastrophes.

Henrietta Howel is our main character, and I'm not sure how I feel about her. She's very stuck on tradition and acting 'like a lady,' which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it got a little old sometimes. However, I did appreciate how bold and unafraid she was, at times, and how she was willing to stand up for herself and own the fact that yes, she is a woman, but no, she is not going to accept your sexist views.

I enjoyed many of the supporting characters, such as Rook, Lilly, Magnus, Hargrove, and Blackwood. Hargrove is an incredible character, and I'm pretty sure he is one of my favorites in this book. Lilly is a sweet lady's maid to Henrietta, though I must say she was pretty similar to other lady's maids from other books, so perhaps that just shows Cluess really got the part down. I enjoyed the rest of the characters as well (including those not named here), and I'm sure I would have enjoyed many of the others if I had seen them more. I understand that there's only so much time to have other characters in the fray, but I missed seeing some of the other boys at the 'school' where Henrietta studied. They were always there, but rarely discussed, so when they suddenly become much more prominent at the end of the book, I found myself feeling like they were just sort of thrown in there.

There were a few surprises along the way that felt somewhat predictable, but fortunately this didn't really detract from my enjoyment of the book. A Shadow Bright and Burning was so entertaining and well-written that I didn't care about a few of the cliches or stereotypes used. And while most people like to complain about love triangles, I'm not sure I minded this one, - and I'm not sure if I would even call it one - simply because it wasn't prominent. It definitely wasn't at the forefront, and there was never anything overtly annoying or in your face about it. Sure, flirtations and romantic interests were apparent, but it wasn't like most of the dreaded, constantly fretted about love triangles found in other books, so please don't let reviews that mention this take away any potential interest in reading this book.

Lastly, I'd just like to touch on Cluess' world building. This world was great to me, because it was set in a realistic world in what feels like the nineteenth century, complete with mentions of historical events and even America, but it was also fantastical and full of a magical background/lore that flowed perfectly throughout the setting.

This was honestly a really fun and enjoyable ride. I truly enjoyed learning the lore, the history of the magic, and the rules and how it is and can be used. Cluess has created a truly exciting world that I cannot wait to read more of, and thus I am giving A Shadow Bright and Burning four stars!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Lock and Key: The Initiation by Ridley Pearson

*Lock and Key: The Initiation will be released Tuesday, September 20th!*

Lock and Key: The Initiation by Ridley Pearson. HarperCollins, 2016. Paperback. 386 pages.

*I received a printed ARC of Lock and Key courtesy of HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review.*

Sherlock Holmes is a well-loved detective character that has been featured in countless books, television shows, movies, and many other forms of entertainment. James Moriarty is the prolific criminal mastermind and nemesis of Holmes, and his role has been increased in many subsequent works of fiction based off of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's original.

Lock and Key brings the classic feud of Sherlock Holmes and James Moriarty to the present day, where the two attend Baskerville Academy and are placed together as roommates. The two do not hit it off, and James takes an immediate dislike to Sherlock's observant and somewhat arrogant nature. The story kicks off when the headmaster of the school announces that a valuable Bible has been stolen, and not long after this announcement James begins to receive mysterious red envelopes with difficult riddles that he must attempt to solve.

The story, however, is not narrated by James, - as one might expect - but is instead narrated by his younger sister, Moria. I found this to be quite a clever idea, and it worked well for a majority of the novel, though it did become a bit confusing in certain narrative events and seemed to be forgotten about sometimes. I also would have liked to read this story from  James' perspective, considering the book is essentially centered around him and his own journey from a loyal companion to his sister at their home to a harsh, troubled boy at their new boarding school. Despite this, reading from Moria's perspective gives the reader some unique perspectives on various events that occur, and also shows us how both James and Moria change over the course of their stay at Baskerville, though in two very different directions. It makes me wonder if it would have been possible for James to not become as hateful as he did, or if this was just in his nature.

Pearson excellently captures Sherlock's sharp, impossibly intelligent mind and also greatly enhances his arrogance - in fact, Sherlock is not the most likable character in many instances. But then there is also the rather unlikable James Moriarty as well, who acts as both a contrast and a similar character to Sherlock. Both boys are stubborn and fairly sure of themselves, and neither one likes to show any form of weakness, which in fact seems to be a weakness in itself.

My main problem with Lock and Key was how long-winded it became. I appreciate the fact that Pearson put so much effort into creating an extremely intricate story with many details, but it just became too confusing as the book progressed past the promising beginning. I found myself somewhat bored in many various periods of tediously long explanations and dialogues. This is marketed as a children's book, but I can see younger readers becoming a bit bored with this one, despite the initial hook and strong beginning.

For mystery fans, Lock and Key is filled with a perfect combination of ingredients: anonymous clues in the form of riddles, a secret society, enigmatic characters, and a slew of difficult problems to solve. Overall, I am giving Lock and Key three stars; while it was enjoyable, the confusing parts in the latter half of the novel and extensive explanation hindered my enjoyment a bit too much for me to give it more stars.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Blog Tour + Giveaway Part Two - The Storybook Knight by Helen and Thomas Docherty

Today I am excited to announce the blog tour for Helen and Thomas Docherty's The Storybook Knight, the second and final part in a two-part blog tour with Sourcebooks! You can find the main page for The Storybook Knight here.

The Storybook Knight
Even dragons can’t resist a good story…

Even though Leo would rather sit at home and read, his parents send him out into the world in the hopes that Leo will become a famous knight. But when Leo comes up against the land’s most fearsome beasts, he soon discovers that scary monsters enjoy a good book as much as anyone…

The Storybook Knight is yet another highly imaginative and entertaining picture book that is sure to bring a smile to readers of all ages.

Leo is the most endearing and heartwarming character that I have come across in ages, and his charming qualities are only enhanced by his pacifist nature and love of books. This book is not only a great story, but also teaches children that books are a great way to find conflict resolution, and that there is also nothing wrong with being a reader! The story is also told in a lovely rhyming pattern that makes it flow well and is thus perfect for reading aloud.

The artwork is simply delightful, as it embodies a traditional form of illustration that brings me back to my own childhood. The characters are all wonderfully depicted and full of life and brought many smiles to my face. I cannot wait until I have my own children so that I can read this story to them, and I am sure to pick this up for a few of the young ones within the rest of my family and friends.

Below is a Rafflecopter giveaway that gives you the opportunity to win an original sketch of Leo and Ned by illustrator Thomas Docherty!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Storybook Knight Website: 
Be sure to pledge your allegiance and receive your very own certificate of membership!

HELEN DOCHERTY has spent most of her career as a language teacher, most recently specializing in Spanish. 

Twitter: @docherty_helen

THOMAS DOCHERTY studied metalwork and sculpture at college before becoming an illustrator of children’s books.


Twitter: @TDIllustration

Biography information and photo from

Waiting on Wednesday: The Beast is an Animal by Peternelle van Arsdale

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights exciting upcoming releases that we can't wait to be released!

This week's upcoming book spotlight is:

The Beast is an Animal by Peternelle van Arsdale
Publication Date: March 7th, 2017
Little, Brown Books
Amazon Book Depository | Barnes & Noble

From Goodreads:

The Beast Is an Animal
Alys was seven when the soul eaters came to her village.

These soul eaters, twin sisters who were abandoned by their father and slowly morphed into something not quite human, devour human souls. Alys, and all the other children, were spared—and they were sent to live in a neighboring village. There the devout people created a strict world where good and evil are as fundamental as the nursery rhymes children sing. Fear of the soul eaters—and of the Beast they believe guides them—rule village life. But the Beast is not what they think it is. And neither is Alys.

Inside, Alys feels connected to the soul eaters, and maybe even to the Beast itself. As she grows from a child to a teenager, she longs for the freedom of the forest. And she has a gift she can tell no one, for fear they will call her a witch. When disaster strikes, Alys finds herself on a journey to heal herself and her world. A journey that will take her through the darkest parts of the forest, where danger threatens her from the outside—and from within her own heart and soul.

Everything about this one just screams 'intrigue' to me, and I am dying to find out more about it!

What do you think about this upcoming release? What are your anticipated upcoming releases?

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

First Chapter Tuesday is hosted every Tuesday by Diane over at Bibiophile by the Sea. Join the fun by making your own post and linking up over at Diane's blog, or simple check it out to find more new books to read!

This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity, #1)
Greenwillow Books, July 2016. Hardcover | Kindle | 464 pages

First paragraph:

"The night Kate Harker decided to burn down the school chapel, she wasn’t angry or drunk. She was desperate.
Burning down the church was really a last resort; she’d already broken a girl’s nose, smoked in the dormitories, cheated on her first exam, and verbally harassed three of the nuns. But no matter what she did, St. Agnes Academy kept forgiving her. That was the problem with Catholic schools. They saw her as someone to be saved.
But Kate didn’t need salvation; she simply needed out."*

just finished This Savage Song and it was such a thrilling book. The monsters, worldbuilding, and character development are all outstanding, and I felt compelled to make this my First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intro for today!

What do you think? Would you keep reading? (And feel free to join in and make your own post!)
If you're enticed by this chapter, be sure to check out the full synopsis on Goodreads!

*Excerpt taken from the novel itself; I do claim to own any part of the excerpt.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Hero of the Empire by Candice Millard

*Hero of the Empire will be released Tuesday, September 20th!*

Hero of the Empire by Candice Millard. Doubleday, 2016. Paperback/softcover. 416 pages.

*I received a printed ARC of Hero of the Empire courtesy of Doubleday in exchange for an honest review.*

This is the third nonfiction book that Candice Millard has written, and with it she continues to prove just how adept and talented she is at writing about important historical figures in a thrilling and informative manner.

I received an ARC of Hero of the Empire prior to reading any of Millard's other work, but I enjoyed Hero of the Empire so much that I immediately went and picked her up her two former works, The River of Doubt and Destiny of the Republic, and fell absolutely in love with her writing. Millard has a remarkable way of creating gripping nonfiction narratives about lesser known or studied events in the lives of these notable men - events that, in a way, seem to define who they are and highlight many of their most admirable qualities.

In Hero of the Empire, Millard focuses on the period of Winston Churchill's life in which he is captured as a prisoner of war and his subsequent escape. I'm sorry to say that I am - or was - woefully ignorant regarding much of Churchill's life and history, but he is one of the many figures that I have been wanting to read more about. Suffice to say, I had absolutely no idea that he was once captured as a prisoner of war. 

Millard writes in an incredibly fluid  manner that makes it easy to follow along with the current political and social issues occurring at the time of the story. Rather than dumping the reader into a setting and time period in which they may or may not know its history, she takes time and great care to make sure that the background of any conflicts, struggles, and political happenings are clearly explained and allow the subsequent events to make sense. At times, it almost starts to feel as if Millard is going off on a tangent about a topic that is only slightly relevant, but right when you think it's gone too far, she brings everything right back around to Churchill and his journey and it all suddenly makes sense. 

Millard's description of Churchill is, in my opinion, perfectly well-rounded. She doesn't paint him in a black and white manner as being a solely a 'great man' or a 'bad man,' but instead provides and unbiased look at his qualities and personality traits - positive and negative. Churchill initially comes off as a rather arrogant man, and I had never liked that aspect of him. I felt how he treated people was often rather rude and inappropriate, but Hero of the Empire gave me a much more well-rounded look. It let me see both the negative and positive sides of his qualities; for instance, he may have been a bit arrogant and acted in a superior manner, but he was also steadfastly loyal and a born leader. He knew how to take charge and create well-formed plans that would allow him to succeed, all of which are admirable qualities that create a good leader. 

One of my favorite aspects of Millard's writing that works extraordinarily well in Hero of the Empire is her insights into the cultural and political events of the time. She doesn't just tell you a heroic and miraculous story about Churchill, she instead tells a story that also analyzes the motives, attitudes, and events of everyone involved in the period. She explains the why the British are involved in this issue, she describes the attitudes of the Boers and their history in South Africa, and she also brings great attention to the native African tribes living in the area, who are the original inhabitants of the area. I loved how deeply she went into the background of these various groups of peoples, and I particularly enjoyed her research on some of the African tribes, such as the Zulu and Xhosa. Millard covers all bases, which makes for a nonstop and wonderfully readable book.

Overall, I am giving Hero of the Empire four-and-a-half stars for its riveting narrative and superb writing.

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Thursday, September 8, 2016

Dear Mr. M by Herman Koch

*Dear. Mr. M is now available!*

Dear Mr. M by Herman Koch. Hogarth, 2016. Paperback. 448 pages. 
(I am majorly digging this cover, by the way.)

*I received a printed ARC of Dear Mr. M courtesy of Hogarth and LibraryThing in exchange for an honest review.*

This is the second book I've read by Herman Koch (the first being The Dinner) and I can already tell that Koch has a very unique and very distinct writing style that is all his own. Putting this writing style into words is extremely difficult, but for me it always elicits extremely mixed feelings. While I may not be overly enamored with the story itself, the ideas that Koch plays with and the unique storytelling methods he uses are enough to capture me and keep me reading.

In Dear Mr. M, Mr. M is an aging writer whose 'glory years' are slowly starting to fade, but who also still has a strong older fan base and thus still partakes in interviews and book signings. We are informed of two of his most popular books, 'The Hour of the Dog' and 'Payback.' The former was written after his first divorce, and was seen by many as discussing too many intimate details regarding the divorce, while the latter is based on a different real life story: the story of the disappearance of a history teacher after he involves himself in an affair with one of his students.

I don't want to go into too many details regarding the specifics of the plot, since I feel that much of the entertainment in this book revolves around your own discovery, so I'm going to be a little vague. The story jumps around quite a bit, and although this is a tad confusing, it somehow worked for the story, as the plot itself and the way in which the story is unfolded is very patchwork-like in nature, and thus the jumping points of view worked well to match the atmosphere. This plot is extraordinarily intricate and sometimes feels hard to follow, but as long as you just jump in and commit to the ride, things eventually start to pay off.

Koch writes really odd characters. They aren't very likable people. They're often harsh, honest to a fault, and basically just not the nicest people out there. Just like in The Dinner, I started off thinking I liked a few of the characters, only to discover just how disturbing or unkind they really were as time went by, which is an odd feature of Koch's writing that is also rather endearing, as it creates an immense amount of mystery and intrigue to the entire story.

I loved Koch's insights into human nature, our motives for doing various things, how we perceive events, and even how physical attributes affect our lives, even if we do not consciously notice it. He tends to go off onto what feel like tangents to contemplate these ideas, but he never strays too far from the story, and somehow manages to work everything into one larger idea. This book also focused on lot of the art of writing itself, such as what works in fiction versus what happens in reality (i.e. unbelievable coincidences), and this also really made me think about a lot of various ideas.

My only critiques center around the fact that I do think Koch could have edited out a few areas that seemed to go on to long. Koch tends to focus on minute details and subsequently spend a few pages discussing them. He also dives off into a few areas relating to Dutch politics and history, which I assume might be more interesting to those living in the Netherlands (maybe?), but that really could have just been cut right out for me. I had no idea what was going on and, frankly, I didn't much care.

Critiques aside, this was overall a fairly solid book. While I did find myself feeling a bit confused or lost at times, the strength of this novel lies in the story and twist and turns, and for those reasons I am giving it three-and-a-half stars.

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The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: Feast of Sorrow by Crystal King

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights exciting upcoming releases that we can't wait to be released!

This week's upcoming book spotlight is:

Feast of Sorrow  by Crystal King
Publication Date: April 25th, 2017
Little, Brown Books
Amazon Book Depository | Barnes & Noble

From Goodreads:

Feast of Sorrow: A Novel of Ancient Rome
Set amongst the scandal, wealth, and upstairs-downstairs politics of a Roman family, Crystal King’s seminal debut features the man who inspired the world’s oldest cookbook and the ambition that led to his destruction.

On a blistering day in the twenty-sixth year of Augustus Caesar’s reign, a young chef, Thrasius, is acquired for the exorbitant price of twenty thousand denarii. His purchaser is the infamous gourmet Marcus Gavius Apicius, wealthy beyond measure, obsessed with a taste for fine meals from exotic places, and a singular ambition: to serve as culinary advisor to Caesar, an honor that will cement his legacy as Rome's leading epicure.

Apicius rightfully believes that Thrasius is the key to his culinary success, and with Thrasius’s help he soon becomes known for his lavish parties and fantastic meals. Thrasius finds a family in Apicius’s household, his daughter Apicata, his wife Aelia, and her handmaiden, Passia whom Thrasius quickly falls in love with. But as Apicius draws closer to his ultimate goal, his reckless disregard for any who might get in his way takes a dangerous turn that threatens his young family and places his entire household at the mercy of the most powerful forces in Rome.

Another historical fiction book set in Ancient Rome? A story centered around upstairs-downstairs politics of the household and a chef? Sign me up! There are so many things that catch my eye about this one and I can't wait for its release next April! (which seems ages away...)

What do you think about this upcoming release? What are your anticipated upcoming releases?

Blog Tour: Review + Giveaway Part One - Max at Night by Ed Vere

Today I am excited to announce the blog tour for Ed Vere's Max at Night, the first in a two-part blog tour with Sourcebooks! You can find the main page for Max at Night here.

Max at Night
Meet Max - the mighty kitten and New York Times bestseller.

'This is Max. Max is very sleepy. It's way past Max's bedtime. Max has drunk his milk. Max has brushed his teeth. Max has cleaned behind his ears. Now Max just needs to say goodnight...'

Max is tired and all ready for bed, but when he can't find the moon to say goodnight to, he sets out to find it. But that's not as easy as Max had hoped... Witty and heart-warming, this stylish and beautifully illustrated book is the perfect bedtime read.

Sometimes in life we all need a break. And even though 'adult' books are often the go-to solution for escaping our daily struggles, sometimes children's books work just as effectively - and they're even better if you have a child (or fellow adult) to share with!

Max at Night is about an adorable kitten that can't go to sleep until he has said goodnight ot everything, including the moon. So when the moon doesn't immediately respond to his 'goodnight,' Max sets out on a mission to find the moon.

This story is so fun and imaginative and makes a truly perfect bedtime story. The illustrations are flawless, and I loved the simplistic style used throughout. I felt like the style of the drawings really reflected the simplistic yet creative style of the story itself. The colors are vibrant and clear, and I especially enjoy the fact that this book is not overly stimulating for a nighttime read.

I would recommend this to anyone I know that has a child, babysits children, or generally works with children, because this is a perfect story that I feel will both keep kids engaged and also send them off to bed with pleasant dreams. I certainly plan to buy a few copies of these as gifts for the children in my life this Christmas!

Below is a Rafflecopter giveaway that gives you the opportunity to win an original sketch by author and illustrator Ed Vere!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Activity Kit/Educator Guide

You can also follow the book and news surrounding it with the hashtag #maxatnight

Ed Vere

ED VERE is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Max the Brave (Sourcebooks, 2015), which was also named one of The Sunday Times’s 100 Modern Children’s Classics.

His book, Mr Big, was chosen by Book Trust as the official Booktime book for 2009 and was distributed to 750,000 British schoolchildren, making it the largest single print run of a picture book. Vere was also the World Book Day illustrator for 2009. In addition to writing and illustrating children’s books, Vere is also a painter and is represented by galleries in London and Los Angeles. He lives in London.

Biography information and photo from

Twitter; @ed_vere