Saturday, February 29, 2020

February Wrap-Up

Here are the books I wanted to read this month: 



 What She Found in the Woods by Josephine Angelini - eARC - 2/5 stars - read my review here.
The Loop (The Loop, #1) by Ben Oliver - ARC - 2.5/5 stars - review to some closer to publication.
The Boy and Girl Who Broke the World by Amy Reed - eARC - 3.5/5 stars - read my review here.

 Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson - eARC - 4.5/5 stars - read my review here.
SLAY by Brittney Morris - eARC - 3/5 stars - read my review here.
The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller - eARC - 3/5 stars - read my review here.

Havenfall (Havenfall, #1) by Sara Holland - eARC - 2/5 stars - review to come.
We Hunt the Flame (Sands of Arawiya, #1) by Hafsah Faizal - eARC - DNF at 34% (1/5 stars) - read my review here.


 Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee - paperback
The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep by H.G. Parry - paperback
The Magnolia Sword: A Ballad of Mulan by Sherry Thomas - paperback



 I was so, so lucky that I got to see Sir Elton John at the Mission in New Zealand!
The concert was amazing and we were so lucky with the seats!

I also went on my first ever solo cinema trip to see Birds of Prey which I thought was a fun film.



The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

 What did you read in February?

Friday, February 28, 2020

DNF Review - We Hunt the Flame (Sands of Arawiya, #1) by Hafsah Faizal

Title: We Hunt the Flame (Sands of Arawiya, #1)
Author: Hafsah Faizal
Pages: 481
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
Release Date: 16th May 2019

Blurb from Goodreads:

People lived because she killed. People died because he lived. 
Nobody knows that Zafira is the Hunter. Forced to disguise herself as a man, she braves the cursed forest to feed her people. If she is exposed as a girl, all of her achievements will be rejected.

Nasir is the infamous Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the sultan. If he refuses he will be punished in the most brutal of ways. 

Both are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya – but neither wants to be. And when Zafira embarks on a quest to restore magic to her suffering world, Nasir is sent by the sultan on a similar mission: retrieve magic and kill the hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds, and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine . . .

Set in a richly detailed world inspired by ancient Arabia, Hafsah Faizal's We Hunt the Flame – first in the Sands of Arawiya duology – is a breathtaking debut about discovery, conquering fear, and taking identity into your own hands.  

My Review:

*I received an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to Pan Macmillan and NetGalley*

- DNF @34% - 

Zafira dresses as a man and hunts in the local cursed forest so that the people in her village don't starve. Her exploits have earned her the nickname of 'The Hunter', but people would turn against Zafira if they knew she was a woman.

Prince Nasir, known as the Prince of Death, is an assassin for his power-hungry father, the sultan. 

When Zafira is invited on a journey to restore magic to her land, she leaves her family behind, unaware that Nasir has been sent on a quest of his own to find the hunter and kill them.

Will Zafira be able to bring back magic?

Will Nasir follow his father's orders as he usually does and kill the hunter?

We Hunt the Flame is one of those hyped and beloved books that I hoped I would like and ended up not enjoying.

Zafira and Nasir were okay protagonists but I felt like I had seen characters like them before and struggled to connect with them.

The pacing was a bit off for me, but I do appreciate that the author was setting the scene and establishing the characters and world.

While the setting and concept were interesting, what I read felt like a mix of books I've read before.

From the first page I found it difficult to get into the story. I also struggled with the writing style and found myself losing interest.

After a while it got to the point where I didn't want to read any more and I decided to stop reading.

I might pick this up again at a later point as it was a book that I was looking forward to reading.

I'm disappointed that I didn't enjoy this more.

Unfortunately, this wasn't for me.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Blog Tour + Review + Giveaway - The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller

Find the tour schedule here.

The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller
 Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Release Date: February 25th 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy


Alessandra is tired of being overlooked, but she has a plan to gain power:

1) Woo the Shadow King.
2) Marry him.
3) Kill him and take his kingdom for herself.

No one knows the extent of the freshly crowned Shadow King’s power. Some say he can command theshadows that swirl around him to do his bidding. Others say they speak to him, whispering the thoughts of his enemies. Regardless, Alessandra knows what she deserves, and she’s going to do everything within her power to get it.

But Alessandra’s not the only one trying to kill the king. As attempts on his life are made, she finds herself trying to keep him alive long enough for him to make her his queen—all while struggling not to lose her heart. After all, who better for a Shadow King than a cunning, villainous queen?

 Book Links:

Visit the Pinterest board for the book which was made by the author here.

Find the book trailer here.

My Review:

*I received an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group and The Fantastic Flying Book Club*


Alessandra has had enough of being constantly overlooked because of her older, more beautiful sister, so she devises a plan to become the most powerful woman in the kingdom.

Alessandra just needs to make the Shadow King fall in love with her and marry her. Then she will kill him and rule as Queen.

Not much is known about the Shadow King, but Alessandra is determined that she will be the one to claim his heart.

But there are others who want the king dead.

Can Alessandra keep the Shadow King alive long enough for her plan to succeed?

Will she lose her own heart in the process?

Who doesn’t like a story where the protagonist has to keep someone alive (usually their enemy) so that they can use them for their own gain? I certainly do, but, unfortunately, I did only like The Shadows Between Us and not love it.

Alessandra was quite a fun protagonist to read about. She was morally grey and I enjoyed her scheming and how determined she was to gain power and to not be in the shadows any more.

There weren’t any characters that really stood out to me, but I did like the friends that Alessandra made at the palace and the Shadow King’s dog, who wasn’t in the book as much as I expected given that he was supposedly the king’s best friend.

The Shadow King himself was, I felt, quite a stereotypical character. I thought that he could have been fleshed out more as he felt a bit two-dimensional and a bit of a cardboard character.

The story was mainly set at the palace, so we don’t find out much about the kingdoms that the Shadow King ruled.

The romance wasn’t one of my favourites, but I could definitely feel the chemistry between Alessandra and the king.

The plot was good overall and there was a twist at the end that I wasn’t expecting, but I wasn’t gripped.

I thought there might be a bit more of a mystery element to the book as the king was trying to find out who murdered his parents, but it hardly felt like there was a mystery most of the time to me.

I spent most of the book feeling like something was missing and I’m still not sure what that something was.

The writing style was easy to follow.

While I did enjoy The Shadows Between Us, I’m disappointed that I didn’t enjoy it more as it had the ingredients to be something that I could have loved.

Overall, this was an enjoyable read.

About the Author

 Tricia Levenseller is the author of the Daughter of the Pirate King duology, Warrior of the Wild, and forthcoming The Shadows Between Us. She likes to describe her books as young adult alternate–world historical fantasies with heavy romantic subplots.

Initially from a small town in Oregon, Tricia now lives next to the Rocky Mountains with her bossy dog, Rosy. She received her degree in English Language and editing, and she is thrilled that she never has to read a textbook again. When she’s not writing or reading, Tricia enjoys putting together jigsaw puzzles, playing volleyball, playing Overwatch with her siblings, and watching shows while eating extra-buttered popcorn.

 Author Links:

 Tour-wide giveaway

Open to US only

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Blog Tour + Excerpt - Foul is Fair by Hannah Capin


Hannah Capin's Foul is Fair is a bloody, thrilling revenge fantasy for the girls who have had enough. Golden boys beware: something wicked this way comes.

Jade and her friends Jenny, Mads, and Summer rule their glittering LA circle. Untouchable, they have the kind of power other girls only dream of. Every party is theirs and the world is at their feet. Until the night of Jade's sweet sixteen, when they crash a St. Andrew’s Prep party. The night the golden boys choose Jade as their next target.

They picked the wrong girl.

Sworn to vengeance, Jade transfers to St. Andrew’s Prep. She plots to destroy each boy, one by one. She'll take their power, their lives, and their control of the prep school's hierarchy. And she and her coven have the perfect way in: a boy named Mack, whose ambition could turn deadly.

Purchase from Wednesday Books



"Fierce, vicious, and electric. If books had teeth, Foul Is Fair would have fangs. Capin's language glitterdark and her writing cuts deep. Revenge is a dish best served by this deliciously unapologetic coven." - Laurie Elizabeth Flynn, author of Firsts and Last Girl Lied To

"Capin’s writing will seduce you with its beauty and then, when you least suspect it, slice you to the bone—just like Foul is Fair’s captivating, vicious, entirely unforgettable heroine, Jade." - Layne Fargo, author of Temper and co-host of Unlikeable Female Characters Podcast

“Vicious and beautifully brutal, Foul is Fair gives a sword to every girl who has ever been a victim and makes them a warrior. This book is pulls no punches and will make anyone think twice before uttering the phrase ‘just a girl’. An unapologetic feminist battle-cry that leaves you breathless and thirsting for vengeance.” - Sonia Hartl, author of Have a Little Faith in Me

"Foul is Fair delivers the story of a girl who snatches control back from a world that stole it away, through whatever means necessary. Hannah Capin deftly combines stunningly lyrical prose with the raw power of engulfing fury, sending a message written in blood. In a world where too many are forced into silence, this book roars back." - S. Gonzales, author of The Law of Inertia and Only Mostly Devastated


Sweet sixteen is when the claws come out.
We’re all flash tonight. Jenny and Summer and Mads and me. Vodka and heels we could never quite walk in before, but tonight we can. Short skirts—the shortest. Glitter and high- light. Matte and shine. Long hair and whitest-white teeth.
I’ve never been blond before but tonight my hair is plati- num. Mads bleached it too fast but I don’t care because tonight’s the only night that matters. And my eyes are jade-green to- night instead of brown, and Summer swears the contacts Jenny bought are going to melt into my eyes and I’ll never see again, but I don’t care about that, either.
Tonight I’m sixteen.
Tonight Jenny and Summer and Mads and me, we’re four sirens, like the ones in those stories. The ones who sing and make men die.
Tonight we’re walking up the driveway to our best party ever. Not the parties like we always go to, with the dull-duller- dullest Hancock Park girls we’ve always known and the dull-duller-dullest wine coolers we always drink and the same bad choice in boys.
Tonight we’re going to a St Andrew’s Prep party. Crashing it, technically.
But nobody turns away girls like us.
We smile at the door. They let us in. Our teeth flash. Our claws glimmer. Mads laughs so shrill-bright it’s almost a scream. Everyone looks. We all grab hands and laugh together and then everyone, every charmed St Andrew’s Prepper is cheering for us and I know they see it—
for just a second—our fangs and our claws.
 The first thing I do is cut my hair.
But it isn’t like in the movies, those crying girls with mas- cara streaks and kindergarten safety scissors, pink and dull, looking into toothpaste specks on medicine cabinet mirrors.
I’m not crying. I don’t fucking cry.
I wash my makeup off first. I use the remover I stole from Summer, oily Clinique in a clear bottle with a green cap. Three minutes later I’m fresh-faced, wholesome, girl-next-door,  and you’d almost never know my lips are still poison when I look the way a good girl is supposed to look instead of like that little whore with the jade-green eyes.
The contact lenses go straight into the trash.
Then I take the knife, the good long knife from the wed- ding silver my sister hid in the attic so she wouldn’t have to think about the stupid man who never deserved her anyway. The marriage was a joke but the knife is perfectly, wickedly beautiful: silver from handle to blade and so sharp you bleed a little just looking at it. No one had ever touched it until I did, and when I opened the box and lifted the knife off the dark red velvet, I could see one slice of my reflection looking back from the blade, and I smiled.
I pull my hair tight, the long hair that’s been mine since those endless backyard days with Jenny and Summer and Mads. Always black, until Mads bleached it too fast, but splin- tering platinum blond for the St Andrew’s party on my sweet sixteen. Ghost-bright hair from Mads and jade-green eyes from Jenny and contour from Summer, almost magic, sculpt- ing me into a brand-new girl for a brand-new year.
My hair is thick, but I’ve never been one to flinch. I stare myself straight in the eyes and slash once— Hard.
And that’s it. Short hair.
I dye it back to black, darker than before, with the cheap box dye I made Jenny steal from the drugstore. Mads revved her Mustang, crooked across two parking spots at three in the morning, and I said:
Get me a color that knows what the fuck it’s doing.
Jenny ran back out barefoot in her baby-pink baby-doll dress and flung herself into the back seat across Summer’s lap, and Mads was out of the lot and onto the road, singing through six red lights, and everything was still slow and foggy and almost like a dream, but when Jenny threw the
box onto my knees I could see it diamond-clear. Hard black Cleopatra bangs on the front and the label, spelled out plain: #010112 REVENGE. So I said it out loud:
And Mads gunned the engine harder and Summer and Jenny shrieked war-cries from the back seat and they grabbed my hand, all three of them, and we clung together so tight I could feel blood under my broken claws.
REVENGE, they said back to me. REVENGE, REVENGE,
So in the bathroom, an hour later and alone, I dye my hair revenge-black, and I feel dark wings growing out of my back, and I smile into the mirror at the girl with ink-stained fingers and a silver sword.
Then I cut my broken nails to the quick. Then I go to bed.
In the morning I put on my darkest lipstick before it’s even breakfast time, and I go to Nailed It with a coffee so hot it burns my throat. The beautiful old lady with the crooked smile gives me new nails as long as the ones they broke off last night, and stronger.
She looks at the bruises on my neck and the scratches across my face, but she doesn’t say anything.
So I point at my hair, and I say, This color. Know what it’s
She shakes her head: No.
She says, Good girl. Kill him.

About the Author


Hannah Capin is the author of Foul is Fair and The Dead Queens Club, a feminist retelling of the wives of Henry VIII. When she isn’t writing, she can be found singing, sailing, or pulling marathon gossip sessions with her girl squad. She lives in Tidewater, Virginia.

 Find Hannah on Twitter and Instagram @tldaaollf

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Blog Tour + Guest Post + Giveaway - The Sound of Stars by Alechia Dow

Find the tour schedule here.


The Sound of the Stars by Alechia Dow
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Release Date: February 25, 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Sci-Fi, Fantasy


Can a girl who risks her life for books and an alien who loves 

forbidden pop music work together to save humanity?

Two years ago, a misunderstanding between the leaders of Earth 

and the invading Ilori resulted in the deaths of one-third of the 

world’s population.

Seventeen-year-old Janelle “Ellie” Baker survives in an Ilori-

controlled center in New York City. Deemed dangerously volatile 

because of their initial reaction to the invasion, humanity’s 

emotional transgressions are now grounds for execution. All art, 

books and creative expression are illegal, but Ellie breaks the rules 

by keeping a secret library. When a book goes missing, Ellie is 

terrified that the Ilori will track it back to her and kill her.

Born in a lab, M0Rr1S (Morris) was raised to be emotionless. 

When he finds Ellie’s illegal library, he’s duty-bound to deliver her 

for execution. The trouble is, he finds himself drawn to human 

music and in desperate need of more. They’re both breaking the 

rules for love of art—and Ellie inspires the same feelings in him 

that music does.

Ellie’s—and humanity’s—fate rests in the hands of an alien she 

should fear. M0Rr1S has a lot of secrets, but also a potential 

solution—thousands of miles away. The two embark on a wild and 

dangerous road trip with a bag of books and their favorite albums, 

all the while making a story and a song of their own that just might 

save them both.

Book Links:

My Publishing Journey 


Hi everyone! I’m Alechia Dow, and I’m going to tell you my long and twisty journey to becoming a published author. 
When I was five years-old, I wrote my first story about a princess trapped inside a jar. A prince tried to save her, but failed, so she saved herself, him, and defeated an evil wizard. After, she lived with her cat in the woods. A few weeks later, I wrote about the princess and her cat, and sentient trees. My stories were nonsensical and illegible, but I remember feeling accomplished for having tried. 
Years later, I was featured in our town newspaper for having written an abstract poem that resonated with my teacher. It was the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever written, and became a family joke. Imagine having your aunt quoting your own lines back to you at Thanksgiving dinner and everyone laughing? Because that’s what happened. It put me off writing for years. 
Instead, I fell into books. Having been the only black kid in my school, I’d found the best way to survive was to read everything wherever I went. You couldn’t be lonely if you had a good book, right? I devoured mystery (I was particularly fond of Mary Higgins Clark), romantic comedies, horror (I checked out every R.L. Stine book in our library at least twice), science fiction, especially Octavia Butler, Philip K. Dick, and any Star Wars fiction I could get my hands on. I spent so much time at the local library that I got my first job there! Bonus, they didn’t charge me late fees, AND I got access to books before release date. It was a dream. 
It wasn’t until I went to college for pastry arts that I went back into writing for fun. Weirdly, I developed a bit of a following with my friends. They’d request new chapters of my rom-coms and sci-fi faster than I could write them. I did my concentration in food writing, became a food critic, a pastry chef…and still I wrote. I delved into fantasy, I read more than ever. I submitted my first story to small publishers, receiving really great feedback and affirming that I could actually write a story. 
Then life changed. My mom passed away a few days before I started grad school and I got a bit lost. Suddenly, my favorite pastime seemed foolish; I wasn’t talented enough, I’d never be able to pay off my student loans, I didn’t have the time to spend writing when I should be working to keep myself out of the poverty I was raised in. I gave up.

Eventually, I became a librarian, worked three jobs, and moved to New York City. I found myself again and felt on top of the world… until I fell in love with a German, and moved to Germany. The German state of Bavaria didn’t accept my master’s degree, and while I worked as a kindergarten teacher, it wasn’t for me. I went back to writing. It still wasn’t good, and worse, my confidence took a serious hit.

There was a temp job opening in NYC for my partner, and I tagged along, with our then two year-old. I worked in Brooklyn as a Children’s Librarian for nine months in 2016. During that time, I took online classes for comic book writing, and then a story popped into my brain. I wrote a 96k book over the course of six months. It was trash, but I didn’t know that. 
I submitted it to agents and got maybe three full requests out of fifty queries. Then I applied to Justina Ireland’s Writing in the Margins mentorship program. To my absolute surprise, I got in! Tamara Mataya became my mentor, and for the next four months, she taught me how to write. I’m not kidding. From sensory details to physical anchors, I owe so much to Tam, and because of her, I could write more books. Which I did. 
In June 2017, I wrote The Sound of Stars. I revised it for Pitch Wars, and didn’t get in. But then with the help of Erin Hahn, Tamara (again), and Laura Weymouth, I pitched it in PitMad on September 7th, 2017. By September 12th, I had offers. It was the best moment of my writing career; to be wanted, to feel like I finally had the right recipe for a story, to feel like I’d found a partner to help get my books out in the world.

The truth is though, when you’re querying, you think of agents like unicorns. Once you have one, you might think, “oh! I’m done now. I can focus on books.” And it’s just not the case. Agents aren’t unicorns, they’re human, and they are your partner, your story sounding board, your advocate. If you can’t talk to them, if you don’t feel like they understand you or your work, then it’s back to square one. 
 After six months, I was back at square one.

My second agent (who is incredible!!) sold The Sound of Stars to Inkyard Press, an imprint of HarperCollins! My editor, Tashya Wilson, is seriously amazing and a genius, and Inkyard has been an absolute dream to work with. While revising has been a lesson in learning to polish and find every loose end, I could not have asked for a better team in my corner. Team Inkyard!!

Since then, I had another shakeup with representation, and after nine excruciating months where I doubted everything, I found my agent match. I’ve never been more hopeful, never felt so accepted and supported, and fingers crossed, I’ll get to write more books.

Thank you for reading my long and rambling account of getting published. It’s been wild, but I know I’ve been lucky and I hope I can help others on this journey!

About the Author

Alechia Dow is a former pastry chef, food critic, culinary teacher,

and Youth Services librarian. When not writing about determined 

black girls (like herself), you can find her chasing her wild child, 

baking, or taking teeny adventures around Europe.

 Author Links:

Tour-wide giveaway

Open to US only