Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Can't-Wait Wednesday - Dangerous Alliance


Can't-Wait Wednesday is a feature hosted at Wishful Endings where people showcase an upcoming book they are looking forward to.

This week I am looking forward to . . .

Title: Dangerous Alliance
Author: Jennieke Cohen
Pages: 416
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: 3rd December 2019

Blurb from Goodreads:

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue meets Jane Austen in this witty, winking historical romance with a dash of mystery!

Lady Victoria Aston has everything she could want: an older sister happily wed, the future of her family estate secure, and ample opportunity to while her time away in the fields around her home.

But now Vicky must marry—or find herself and her family destitute. Armed only with the wisdom she has gained from her beloved novels by Jane Austen, she enters society’s treacherous season.

Sadly, Miss Austen has little to say about Vicky’s exact circumstances: whether the roguish Mr. Carmichael is indeed a scoundrel, if her former best friend, Tom Sherborne, is out for her dowry or for her heart, or even how to fend off the attentions of the foppish Mr. Silby, he of the unfortunate fashion sensibility.

Most unfortunately of all, Vicky’s books are silent on the topic of the mysterious accidents cropping up around her…ones that could prevent her from surviving until her wedding day.

Why I'm Anticipating This Book:

Historical romance + Jane Austen + a hint of mystery?!
Yes, please!


Saturday, November 9, 2019

Review - With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

Title: With the Fire on High
Author: Elizabeth Acevedo
Pages: 400
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Release Date: 19th September 2019

Blurb from Goodreads:
Ever since she got pregnant, seventeen-year-old Emoni's life has been about making the tough decisions - doing what has to be done for her young daughter and her grandmother. Keeping her head down at school, trying not to get caught up with new boy Malachi. The one place she can let everything go is in the kitchen, where she has magical hands - whipping up extraordinary food beloved by everyone. 

Emoni wants to be a chef more than anything, but she knows it's pointless to pursue the impossible. There are rules she has to play by. And yet, once she starts cooking, and gets that fire on high, she sees that her drive to feed will feed her soul and dreams too. And anything is possible.

My Review:

*I won a copy of this book through Readers First*

Seventeen-year-old Emoni lives with her baby daughter and her grandmother.
In her final year of high school, Emoni splits her time between school, work, and looking after her daughter.
She is a gifted cook and dreams of running her own restaurant, but Emoni knows that she might have to give up her dreams in order to provide for her family.

With the Fire on High is a beautifully designed book and I like that there's food on the cover - you don't see that very often.
Emoni was a likeable and relatable protagonist. She hadn't had the easiest life, but she didn't mope around feeling sorry for herself. I liked her relationship with her grandma and her best friend.
I think this was the first book I've read where the main character wants to be a chef, so that was refreshing and interesting.
I was not a fan of the romantic interest. Some of his actions really bugged me.
The plot was pretty predictable overall, but I did enjoy what I read.
I'm disappointed that I didn't enjoy this more.

Overall, this was an enjoyable read.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Blog Tour + Guest Post + Giveaway - Every Stolen Breath by Kimberly Gabriel

Find the tour schedule here.

Every Stolen Breath by Kimberly Gabriel
Publisher: BLINK
Release date: November 5, 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Thriller


The Swarm is unrecognizable, untraceable, and unpredictable—random attacks on the streets of Chicago by a mob of crazed teens that leaves death in its wake. It’s been two years since the last attack, but Lia Finch has found clues that reveal the Swarm is ready to claim a new victim.

Lia is the only one still pursuing her father’s killers, two years after attorney Steven Finch’s murder by the Swarm. Devastated and desperate for answers, Lia will do anything to uncover the reasons behind his death and to stop someone else from being struck down. But due to debilitating asthma and PTSD that leaves her with a tenuous hold on reality, Lia is the last person to mount a crusade on her own.

After a close encounter with the Swarm puts Lia on their radar, she teams up with a teen hacker, a reporter, and a mysterious stranger who knows firsthand how the mob works. Together, they work to uncover the masterpuppeteer behind the group. Though if Lia and her network don’t stop the person pulling the strings—and fast—Lia may end up the next target.

Book Links:

10 Things I Wish I Knew About Being an Author I Didn’t Know Before

A Writing Community will help you survive.

I used to think that writing was a solitary activity and that I didn’t need a writing community, but immersing myself in the writing community has been the best and smartest parts of this journey. At some point as a debut author, you will have questions, and you won’t be able to Google the answer. Having writing friends is necessary to your survival as a debut.

You will want to ignore the advice other authors give you. Don’t.

Authors who have been through it give good advice. So many times this year, even though I recognized the good advice when it came, I dismissed it by thinking it wouldn’t apply to me. Authors would say, “Stay off of Goodreads,” and I would think, I won’t be bothered by negative reviews. They were right. Authors would say, “Learn how to manage your time. You will only get busier,” and I would think, I just need to clear *this* off my plate, and then things will slow down. They were right. Being an author, especially during a debut year is more predictable and formulaic than I ever imagined. The best part is you’re in it with so many others. Listen to their advice.

You will only get busier.

Write your second book as early on in the process as you can. You might be tempted to put this off until all your revisions and edits are done with your first book, but that’s when the marketing and publicity takes off. There is a lot of waiting between rounds of revisions. If you can, work on your next project.

You will want to prepare stock responses to the following questions.

            When will it be a movie?
            When will you quit your day job?
            Can I get a free book?
            Why is it taking so long to publish it?
            And when you are stressed, in the weeks before launch, *Why are you stressed? You
already wrote the book. Isn’t the hard part over?
*To answer that last question, writing the book is the easy part.

People will want to hear you talk.

Practice public speaking because the events come more quickly than you think they will, and people will want to hear you talk about your book and your journey. I’m a teacher, and so I’m used to speaking in front of kids. (Adults are harder) Still, one of the best things I did in my debut year was go to any book event I could find, and I listened to authors talk about their books. Because of it, I felt so much more prepared when I sat on my first panel.  

You still need to write your own synopses and pitches. 

Wherever I go, I pitch my book, only now I say it instead of write it. Get your pitch down (and several alternate versions of it quickly). My second book had a twenty-page synopsis. The silver lining in it all is that while I used to hate pitching my book and writing synopses, I’ve become better at it. 

At some point you will feel like an imposter.

Imposter syndrome will happen at some point, or it might never go away. When those moments come, learn to fake it.

People will have opinions about your book.

And they will want to share them—especially if they didn’t like something about your book. This is actually flattering, which isn’t always easy to remember in the moment. If someone is so invested in your book that they feel the need to discuss it with you, it’s usually because they were attached to your story and your characters. (You might want to prepare a stock response for this too).

You will spend a lot of time and money at the post office.

I underestimated this. Especially if you have a preorder campaign, you will be at the post office often. I also mailed out copies of my ARCs and fellow debut authors’ ARCs that were sent to me and then I sent elsewhere. Keep your receipts for all of this so you can write it off! I promise you it adds up quickly!

Set a budget and stick to it.

Even if your publisher pays for your bookmarks and swag or sends you on tour and to conferences, there will be so many little things that add up quickly. Try to go into it with a budget in mind and stick to it. Then keep all of your receipts and write off as much as you can. 

 About the Author

Kimberly Gabriel started writing in fourth grade when she wrote, bound, and gave away books of terrible poetry to family and teachers as holiday gifts. Today she is an English teacher, who still squanders all free minutes to write and uses it as the best scapegoat for her laundry avoidance is-sues. When she is not teaching or writing, Kimberly is enjoying life with her husband, her three beautiful children, and a seriously beautiful boxer in the northern suburbs of Chicago. Every Stolen Breath is her debut novel and a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection.

Author Links:

 Tour-wide giveaway

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Tuesday, November 5, 2019

November TBR

This year is just flying by!

There are still SO many books that I want to read before the end of the year so my November TBR is quite ambitious.

This month I'm hoping to read . . .

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins-Reid

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

What are you planning to read in November?



Monday, November 4, 2019

Blog Tour + Guest Post + Giveaway - The How & the Why by Cynthia Hand

Find the tour schedule here.


 The How & the Why by Cynthia Hand
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: November 5th 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary


A poignant exploration of family and the ties that bind, perfect for fans of Far From the Tree, from New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Hand.

Today Melly had us writing letters to our babies...

Cassandra McMurtrey has the best parents a girl could ask for. They’ve given Cass a life she wouldn’t trade for the world. She has everything she needs—except maybe the one thing she wants. Like, to know who she is. Where she came from. Questions her adoptive parents can’t answer, no matter how much they love her.

But eighteen years ago, someone wrote Cass a series of letters. And they may just hold the answers Cass has been searching for.

Alternating between Cass’s search for answers and letters from the pregnant teen who gave her up for adoption, this voice-driven narrative is the perfect read for fans of Nina LaCour and Jandy Nelson.

Book Links:

  Lists to Make In Order To Become a Better Writer

When I teach creative writing, I always start each semester by having my students make a series of lists to help them see themselves more clearly. So I’m passing that on to you, dear book addicts! Let’s jump right in.

1. Make a list of books in the particular genre you’re interested in writing in. You should read the heck out of that genre. When I first realized that the novel I was writing (my first novel, Unearthly) was YA, I read 72 young adult titles that year, just to get a feel for what YA was like. The more knowledgeable you are of your genre, the more easily you’ll be able to find your place in and understand how you can contribute. Also make a list of books that are outside of your chosen genre/genres, but might be inspirational, too.

2. Make a list of your talents and skills as a writer. Are you good at dialogue? Do you create detailed settings? Are you good with plot? List everything—both things that sort of come naturally to you, and techniques you’ve picked up. Now take a good look at your list. Ask yourself: how can I write to my strengths? What kind of projects would best showcase my talents? Think of writing like auditioning for American Idol: you want to pick a song (*cough, STORY) that shows that you’re relevant to today’s market AND demonstrates your talent in the best way possible.

3. Make a list of your flaws as a writer. What do you struggle with? Do you do too much showing instead of telling, or is your problem the opposite: you have trouble getting the character to reflect and tell us what’s meaningful in a scene? Do you find it hard to describe characters? Do you have a tendency to drift into cliché? Be honest with yourself. Nobody has to see the list but you. You don’t have to be ashamed—all writers, even the best ones, have flaws. Just ask Stephen King about endings. :) Once you have a list, try to look at it as a to-do list for how you might improve. Find writers that are great at what you suck at and try to study how they make it work. Read craft books. Work on writing smaller pieces, like short stories or even simply scenes, where you exercise at those skills. Soon you’ll find that you’re writing better.

4. Make a list of things you are passionate about or things you are an expert on-- subjects that compel you to write. The poet Richard Hugo calls these “triggers.” I know that the word trigger has a different meaning these days, but the idea is the same: things that bring up emotions in you. Once you have a list, ask yourself, am I writing about the things I’m excited about? Sometimes we write what we think other people want to read, instead of following are our obsessions. But the truth is, if you don’t love the things you’re writing about, nobody else will, either.

Okay, so you’ve got your lists. Now to make plans on how to use them! Good luck and happy writing!


About the Author


 Cynthia Hand is the New York Times bestselling author of several books for teens, including the UNEARTHLY trilogy, THE LAST TIME WE SAY GOODBYE, MY LADY JANE and MY PLAIN JANE (with fellow authors Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows), THE AFTERLIFE OF HOLLY CHASE, and the upcoming novels THE HOW AND THE WHY and MY CALAMITY JANE (also with Ashton and Meadows). Before turning to writing for young adults, she studied literary fiction and earned both an M.F.A. and a Ph.D. in fiction writing. She currently resides in Boise, Idaho, with her husband, two cats, one crazy dog, two kids, and mountain of books.

Author Links:

Tour-wide giveaway

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Thursday, October 31, 2019

October Wrap-Up

*This contains spoilers for the October FairyLoot box*

Here's what I planned to read this month . . .


 Good Omens by Terry Pratchett - paperback - 2.5/5 stars
Mr Peacock's Possessions by Lydia Syson - eARC - 3/5 stars - read my review here.
The Good Luck Girls (The Good Luck Girls, #1) by Charlotte Nicole Davis - ARC - 3/5 stars - read my review here.

 Nocturna (A Forgery of Magic, #1) by Maya Motayne - eARC - 2.5/5 stars - read my review here.
Angel Mage by Garth Nix - hardback - 3/5 stars - read my review here.

Music and Malice in Hurricane Town by Alex Bell - eARC - 3.5/5 stars - read my review here.
 Crown of Feathers (Crown of Feathers, #1) by Nicki Pau Preto - eARC - 3/5 stars - read my review here.


The Secret Commonwealth (The Book of Dust, #2) by Philip Pullman - I got both the normal hardback and the exclusive, signed slipcase edition, which is gorgeous.

Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hinks - I got this in a trade.

The Sky Is Mine by Amy Beashel - this is an ARC copy that I requested and was sent by Rock the Boat.

Into the Crooked Place by Alexandra Christo - this is the FairyLoot edition which I pre-ordered before having read my ARC, which I unfortunately didn't like very much :(

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller - this was my sister's copy but she didn't enjoy it so I claimed it.

Not photographed is the October FairyLoot book which was The Beautiful by Renee Ahdieh. This edition is signed, has red sprayed edges and has character art on the inside of the sleeve.


Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers by Deborah Heiligman

The Kingdom of Copper (The Daevabad Trilogy, #2) by S.A. Chakraborty


 What books did you read in October?

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Blog Tour + Review - Angel Mage by Garth Nix

Title: Angel Mage
Author: Garth Nix
Pages: 560
Publisher: Gollancz
Release Date: 17th October 2019

Blurb from Goodreads:

More than a century has passed since Liliath crept into the empty sarcophagus of Saint Marguerite, fleeing the Fall of Ystara. But she emerges from her magical sleep still beautiful, looking no more than nineteen, and once again renews her single-minded quest to be united with her lover, Palleniel, the archangel of Ystara.

A seemingly impossible quest, but Liliath is one of the greatest practitioners of angelic magic to have ever lived, summoning angels and forcing them to do her bidding.

Liliath knew that most of the inhabitants of Ystara died from the Ash Blood plague or were transformed into beastlings, and she herself led the survivors who fled into neighboring Sarance. Now she learns that angels shun the Ystaran’s descendants. If they are touched by angelic magic, their blood will turn to ash. They are known as Refusers, and can only live the most lowly lives.

But Liliath cares nothing for the descendants of her people, save how they can serve her. It is four young Sarancians who hold her interest: Simeon, a studious doctor-in-training; Henri, a dedicated fortune hunter; Agnez, an adventurous musketeer cadet; and Dorotea, an icon-maker and scholar of angelic magic. They are the key to her quest.

The four feel a strange kinship from the moment they meet, but do not know why, or suspect their importance. All become pawns in Liliath’s grand scheme to fulfill her destiny and be united with the love of her life. No matter the cost to everyone else. . .

My Review:

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to Gollancz*

It has been more than a century since Ystara fell and its inhabitants were either killed or turned into beastlings by the Ash Plague.

The descendants of the Ystarans that managed to escape to the neighbouring country of Sarance are called Refusers. They cannot be touched by angelic magic, otherwise they will be affected by the Ash Plague like their ancestors.

One day, Liliath, a Ystaran with a strong affinity for angelic magic, emerges from the tomb she has been asleep in since the fall of Ystara. She hasn’t aged a day, and is determined to be reunited with the archangel of Ystara, who she loves.

Liliath’s plans include four young Sarancians: Agnez, a Musketeer cadet, Dorotea, a scholar and icon-maker, Simeon, a doctor-in-training, and Henri, who is good with numbers and dreams of money and treasure.

The four feel a strong connection with each other the moment they meet, but will they survive what Liliath has planned for them?
How far is Liliath willing to go to get what she wants?

I’m a big Garth Nix fan, so when I heard that he had an adult fantasy book coming out I couldn’t wait to read it.

There are a lot of characters in Angel Mage. There were several times when I forgot who was who when it came to some of the secondary characters, and I think that a list of characters at the beginning of the book would have been useful.

Agnez was my favourite of the main characters. I liked that she always ready and eager to fight. She was also friendly and seemed like someone who would be fun to be friends with.
I liked Dorotea a lot as well. She was interesting and I felt sorry for her at times. Her relationship with Rochefort was intriguing.
Liliath was a good villain. She was determined and manipulative. It was interesting to read as she put the pieces of her plan into action and used people to get what she wanted.

There were five points of view: Agnez, Dorotea, Simeon, Henri, and Liliath. I liked that Liliath had her own chapters and that we could see what she was up to, but I think that maybe there were one or two too many point of views.

Angel Mage is a long book – over 500 pages – but there were times when it felt even longer for me. I think this was due to the pacing, which was slower than I would have liked. While I did enjoy reading as the four met and became friends, I would have liked more action.

The ending was perhaps slightly disappointing, but I do think that this is one of those books where the journey is more important than the ending.

One thing I really liked and appreciated about Angel Mage is that there were a lot of female characters in positions of power. A lot of the characters were also people of colour.
My favourite thing about the book is that it was inspired by The Three Musketeers, which I thought was unique and a really cool idea.

The angelic magic and the concept of using icons to summon angels was intriguing. I liked that summoning higher order angels took a toll on the summoner, so they would only do it if necessary.
The world-building was very good – I came away from the book feeling like I knew a lot about the histories of Ystara and Sarance.

This was the author’s debut adult fantasy novel, but I can easily see YA readers enjoying this.

Angel Mage throws you in to the deep end from the first page, so it took me a while to wrap my head around what was happening. However, the concept/foundations of the book aren’t simple so I don’t think this is something that could have been avoided.

While I didn’t enjoy Angel Mage as much as I hoped I would, I did enjoy it overall, and I really liked the Musketeer-ness to it as well as the characters and the angelic magic, which I thought was an interesting take on angels.

Overall, this was an enjoyable read.

About the Author

Garth Nix has been a full-time writer since 2001, but has also worked as a literary agent, marketing consultant, book editor, book publicist, book sales representative, bookseller, and as a part-time soldier in the Australian Army Reserve.

Garth’s books include the Old Kingdom fantasy series, comprising Sabriel, Lirael; Abhorsen; Clariel and Goldenhand; SF novels Shade’s Children and A Confusion of Princes; and a Regency romance with magic, Newt’s Emerald. His novels for children include The Ragwitch; the six books of The Seventh Tower sequence; The Keys to the Kingdom series and others.

More than five million copies of his books have been sold around the world, they have appeared on the bestseller lists of The New York Times, Publishers Weekly and USA Today and his work has been translated into 42 languages.