Sunday, May 31, 2020

May Wrap-Up

May was quite a good reading month for me and I ended up reading nine books.



 The Vanished Bride (Brontë Sisters Mystery, #1) by Bella Ellis - eARC - 2.5/5 stars - read my review here.
The Court of Miracles (A Court of Miracles, #1) by Kester Grant - eARC - 3.5/5 stars - review to come.
Goldilocks by Laura Lam - eARC - 3/5 stars - read my review here.

 The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys - eARC - 3/5 stars - read my review here.
The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave - eARC - 3/5 stars - read my review here.
Trail of Lightning (The Sixth World, #1) by Rebecca Roanhorse - eARC - 2.5/5 stars - read my review here.

The Magnolia Sword: A Ballad of Mulan by Sherry Thomas - paperback - 3.5/5 stars.
The How & the Why by Cynthia Hand - eARC - 3/5 stars - read my review here.

The Never Tilting World (The Never Tilting World, #1) by Rin Chupeco - eARC - DNF at 27% (1/5 stars) - read my review here.
Blood Countess (Lady Slayers, #1) by Lana Popovic - eARC - 2.5/5 stars - read my review here.
And The Stars Were Burning Brightly (And The Stars Were Burning Brightly, #1) by Danielle Jawando - eARC - 3/5 stars - review to come.


I picked up a Kindle copy of Thorn for £0.99!

Here are the NetGalley books I was approved this month:


 I posted lots of reviews this month which there are links to above.

I also took part in the blog tour for The Life and (Medieval) Times of Kit Sweetly by Jamie Pacton and hosted an interview, which can be read here.

I did a Top Ten Tuesday post on the last ten books I DNF'd.
 I also did a post on sequels that I thought were better than the first book in the series, which can be read here.

Another blog tour I participated in was for Heir of Lies (Black Dawn, #1) by Mallory McCartney. I hosted a guest post where the author wrote a letter to her readers.


Seven Devils (Seven Devils, #1) by Laura Lam and Elizabeth May

What did you read this month?
What books did you buy?


Friday, May 29, 2020

Blog Tour + Interview + Giveaway - Every Reason We Shouldn't (Every Reason We Shouldn't #1) by Sara Fujimura

Find the tour schedule here.

 Every Reason We Shouldn't (Every Reason We Shouldn't #1) by Sara Fujimura
Publisher: Tor Teen
Release Date: March 3rd 2020
Genre: Romance, Young Adult, Contemporary, Sports, Fiction, Teen, Cultural


Warning: Contains family expectations, delightful banter, great romantic tension, skating (all kinds!), Korean pastries,and all the feels.

Fifteen-year-old, biracial figure skater Olivia Kennedy’s Olympic dreams have ended. She's bitter, but enjoying life as a regular teenager instead of an athlete... until Jonah Choi starts training at her family's struggling rink. Jonah's driven, talented, going for the Olympics in speed skating, completely annoying... and totally gorgeous. Between teasing Jonah, helping her best friend try out for roller derby, figuring out life as a normal teen and keeping the family business running, Olivia's got her hands full. But will rivalry bring her closer to Jonah, or drive them apart?

Every Reason We Shouldn't by Sara Fujimura is a charming multicultural romance perfect for the many fans of Jenny Han and Rainbow Rowell.

Book Links:

How did you come up with the idea for Every Reason We Shouldn't?
Apolo Ohno’s autobiography ZERO REGRETS is a fascinating look into the mind and life of a high-performance athlete. I was particularly drawn to his teen years. Ohno sacrificed a lot of normal teenage things (like Jonah does) to chase his dream even though there were no guarantees that he would ever make it to the Olympics. Spoiler alert: Ohno has eight Olympic medals in short track speed skating. I think he made the right choice. I saved Ohno’s crossroads story for Olivia, though. You don’t have to be a high-level athlete to understand Olivia’s dilemma. Somewhere between the ages of 17-21, EVERYBODY has a version of this crossroads conflict in their life. It’s that time when you have to decide: Is it time to let this dream go, or do I push on even though it is currently bringing me nothing but heartache? Whether you don’t get into your dream college or do make it through the first round of auditions or get a failing grade in a class that you’ve busted your butt in or whatever version of disappointment and frustration comes with your dream, you will hit the crossroads at some point. Because figure skating skews so young for women, Olivia arrived at the crossroads earlier than most. 

Did you do any research for Every Reason We Shouldn't?

So. Much. Research. My brain loves to give me ideas for stories about things I don’t know beans about. I started my writing career as a journalist though, so I know how to do research. I totally geek out while doing research and love interviewing experts. You can see at the end of the ERWS, how many people had a hand in this book. I had multiple beta readers reading for specific things. The biggest surprise was NY Times best-selling adult author and skating superfan Courtney Milan who graciously shared her ridiculous depth of knowledge about figure skating with me. Though the story was solid enough to be believable, Ms. Milan helped me tweak little details to take the book to the next level. The biggest compliment I receive is when a reader thinks I was a hard-core skater once upon a time just like they are/were. Though I own a pair of ice skates, I will be the first to admit that I’m a horrible figure skater. I am much better on roller skates. I have to give YA author and figure skater Katie Van Ark (THE BOY NEXT DOOR, YA contemporary about pair figure skaters) props for also helping me with my skating and coming up with Olivia and Jonah’s signature move.

Do you have a favourite character in Every Reason We Shouldn't?

Mack. She’s raw. She’s feisty. Her relationship with Olivia and Jonah is unusual. Because Mack is almost 20 and a single mom, she is simultaneously a buddy and a mother figure to the younger skaters. Mack has already passed through the crossroads in her life and made some life-altering choices. Though it looks like she’s going completely the wrong way…that’s all I’m going to say.

What was your favourite part of writing Every Reason We Shouldn't?

Getting to step inside the minds of such different people. I like to do “method writing” whenever I can, so I went to my local ice skating rink several times and skated. I also attended a roller derby bout in downtown Phoenix. I ate hotteok in the name of research. Multiple times. Just to be sure. I believe that it’s all the little specific details that make a book fun and relatable even if it is entirely different from your life.

Do you have any advice for new writers?

Write whatever your heart calls you to write. What if I had listened to my Inner Critic who said, “What? You can’t write this book. You’re a terrible ice skater and don’t understand the first thing about speed skating?” I can’t get the Inner Critic to go away, but I can put duct tape over her mouth and make her sit in the corner while I’m writing.

What's your favourite book/series?

After reading too many crappy second books in a forced trilogy, I prefer to stick to standalone novels. That said, I love it when the books are standalone but set in one world. That way, old characters can have cameos in new characters’ books. Then it feels like a reunion. My current favorite author who does this so well is Sandhya Menon. I can’t wait for the newest “Dimpleverse” book 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT PINKY.

About the Author

SARA FUJIMURA is an award-winning young adult author and creative writing teacher. She is the American half of her Japanese-American family, and has written about Japanese culture and raising bicultural children for such magazines as Appleseeds, Learning Through History, East West, and Mothering, as well as travel-related articles for To Japan With Love. Her self-published young adult novels include Tanabata Wish and Breathe. She lives in Phoenix with her husband and children.

Author Links:

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Thursday, May 28, 2020

Review - Blood Countess (Lady Slayers, #1) by Lana Popović

Title: Blood Countess (Lady Slayers, #1)
Author: Lana Popović
Pages: 320
Publisher: Amulet Books
Release Date: 28th January 2020

Blurb from Goodreads:

A historical YA horror novel based on the infamous real-life inspiration for Countess Dracula.
In 16th century Hungary, Anna Darvulia has just begun working as a scullery maid for the young and glamorous Countess Elizabeth Báthory. When Elizabeth takes a liking to Anna, she’s vaulted to the dream role of chambermaid, a far cry from the filthy servants’ quarters below. She receives wages generous enough to provide for her family, and the Countess begins to groom Anna as her friend and confidante. It’s not long before Anna falls completely under the Countess’s spell—and the Countess takes full advantage. Isolated from her former friends, family, and fiancé, Anna realizes she’s not a friend but a prisoner of the increasingly cruel Elizabeth. Then come the murders, and Anna knows it’s only a matter of time before the Blood Countess turns on her, too.

My Review:

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

Anna Darvulia takes a job working for Countess Elizabeth Bathory in order to provide for her family.

At first, Anna is a scullery maid, but then Anna gets noticed by Elizabeth and becomes a chambermaid.

The two grow close and soon Anna and Elizabeth are inseparable.

Then Anna starts to see a darker side to Elizabeth, a side that scares Anna.

When the bodies begin piling up, Anna knows it isn't long before she will be next.

Can Anna escape from Elizabeth?

Blood Countess is a book that I have very mixed feelings about.

Anna was a likeable protagonist but there were times when I found her a bit annoying. I didn't always agree with her thought processes.

The setting of 16th century Hungary was interesting but we don't get to see much of it seeing as most of the novel is set in castles.

The novel is based on the real-life inspiration for Countess Dracula, which was interesting and a bit scary.

The plot was very predictable and nothing that happened surprised me. Despite this, I did enjoy the first half, but then found myself losing interest during the second half of the novel.

I found some scenes hard to read and there was more violence than I expected.

The romance felt rushed and I didn't feel the connection between the characters.

The writing style made it a quick read (I read the book in two days) but I wasn't gripped.

I'm disappointed that I didn't enjoy this more as the premise intrigued me.

Overall, this was an ok read.


Wednesday, May 27, 2020

DNF Review - The Never Tilting World (The Never Tilting World, #1) by Rin Chupeco

Title: The Never Tilting World (The Never Tilting World, #1)
Author: Rin Chupeco
Pages: 496
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: 15th October 2019

Blurb from Goodreads:

Frozen meets Mad Max in this epic teen fantasy duology bursting with star-crossed romance, immortal heroines, and elemental magic, perfect for fans of Furyborn.

Generations of twin goddesses have long ruled Aeon. But seventeen years ago, one sister’s betrayal defied an ancient prophecy and split their world in two. The planet ceased to spin, and a Great Abyss now divides two realms: one cloaked in perpetual night, the other scorched by an unrelenting sun. 

While one sister rules Aranth—a frozen city surrounded by a storm-wracked sea —her twin inhabits the sand-locked Golden City. Each goddess has raised a daughter, and each keeps her own secrets about her sister’s betrayal. 

But when shadowy forces begin to call their daughters, Odessa and Haidee, back to the site of the Breaking, the two young goddesses —along with a powerful healer from Aranth, and a mouthy desert scavenger —set out on separate journeys across treacherous wastelands, desperate to heal their broken world. No matter the sacrifice it demands.

My Review:
*I received an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to HarperTeen and Edelweiss*

- DNF at 27% -

The world of Aeon has been ruled by twin goddesses for generations. Seventeen years ago, the world stopped spinning when one sister betrayed the other.

Ever since, Aeon has been divided in two, with one half of the planet in constant darkness, and the other half in never-ending blistering sunlight.

Each half of the world is ruled by one of the sisters who keep the betrayal that caused the world to change secret.

Odessa and Haidee, the daughters of the sisters, both encounter strange beings and find themselves on paths that will lead them to the Great Abyss where the betrayal took place.

Can Odessa and Haidee save Aeon?

The concept of the book intrigued me and I really liked the idea of the daughters of the two rulers embarking on a quest to save their world where life was being threatened by what was essentially climate change. However, I ended up not enjoying The Never Tilting World, which was a shame.

The characters were ok, but I didn't connect with them and struggled to care what happened to them.

There are four points of view, but I felt like that was too many. Two would have worked better for me.

My favourite thing about the book was the diversity.

I wasn't a fan of the romance. I couldn't feel the connection between the characters.

The setting was interesting, especially the city surrounded by encroaching glaciers/ice.

The plot was ok, but I really struggled to stay interested in what was happening.

Unfortunately, this was a book where the writing style, plot and characters didn't speak to me and I decided to stop reading rather than force myself to continue on.

Unfortunately, this wasn't for me.


Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Blog Tour + Guest Post + Giveaway - Heir of Lies (Black Dawn, #1) by Mallory McCartney

Find the tour schedule here.

Heir of Lies (Black Dawn #1) by Mallory McCartney
Publication Date: April 21, 2020

“Hope was a dangerous thing. It could consume every dream and make them take flight, becoming wild daydreams in one’s heart and mind. Or hope could incinerate everything you thought you knew, burning you down to your core, leaving you raw and exposed for the world.”

Emory Fae has only known one thing—life at The Academy, a school for those who have special abilities. Following in her parents’ footsteps, the pressure to uphold their dream falls on her and one of her best friends—Adair Stratton. An outcast and feared by most, Adair longs to break away from the expectations dictating his future. With whispers of dark magic spreading across Kiero, Adair starts to doubt The Academy is all it seems.

An unexpected visit ignites new tensions as the roguish king from across the Black Sea, Tadeas Maher of the Shattered Isles, and his heir, Marquis Maher, sail to Kiero. Notorious for their pirating and wrath, for the first time in years, they demand the Faes listen to their proposition for a new treaty. Caught in the middle of politics, Adair and Emory, with the help of their best friends Brokk and Memphis, search for the one thing that matters the most—the truth.

Their world is tipped upside down as unlikely alliances are made, and war ravages Kiero. Through the throes of betrayal, lies, hidden magic, and love, Adair is faced with a life changing decision. Will he fight or bow to the darkness within?
But, Adair’s decision will change the course of Kiero forever, setting in motion irreversible destinies for everyone at The Academy as Emory Fae rises as heir.

Heir of Lies is the first book in the bestselling Black Dawn series.

Purchase Links:

Thanks for having me today! Here’s a note to my lovely readers!

Hey guys!

Do you know how awesome you all are? Over the last five years and a lot of transition in my books getting the new editions of the Black Dawn Series out, you guys have not only been patient but have sent me so much love and excitement with Heir of Lies and Queen to Ashes coming out! I love hearing about who your favourite characters are, and that so far you don’t mind how much trauma I put them through (I promise the ending will be worth it!)

It’s something really special, having a story that has been a dream of mine for so many years, find its way into your hearts. So thank you, a thousand times over, for giving my stories a place to call home, and giving me an avenue to continue writing for years to come. 



About the Author


Mallory McCartney currently lives in Sarnia, Ontario with her husband and their three dachshunds Link, Lola and Leonard. When she isn’t working on her next novel or reading, she can be found day dreaming about fantasy worlds and hiking. Other favorite pastimes involve reorganizing perpetually overflowing bookshelves and seeking out new coffee and dessert shops.

 Tour-wide giveaway


Monday, May 25, 2020

Review - The How & the Why by Cynthia Hand

Title: The How & the Why
Author: Cynthia Hand
Pages: 464
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: 5th November 2019

Blurb from Goodreads:
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.

My Review:
*I received an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to HarperTeen and Edelweiss*

Cassandra McMurtrey was adopted as a baby. She loves her parents, her best friend and performing on the stage.

Now that she's eighteen, Cass wants to find out who her biological parents are and whether or not she's like them at all.

When she was pregnant, Cass's biological mother wrote letters to her unborn child.

Will the letters help Cass find what she's looking for?

My favourite thing about this book was that we get to see things from both Cass and 'S', her biological mother's, points of view. It was interesting to read S's thought process for putting Cass up for adoption and her personality really shone through the letters.

It was interesting reading the book and knowing that the author herself was adopted.

Cass was a likeable and relatable protagonist. She went through a bit of a rough patch, but I thought she coped pretty well overall.

Cass's adopted parents were characters that I really liked and I thought it was lovely how well Cass's best friend got on with them.

The plot was good, but I did guess something and I wasn't gripped by what was happening.

This was an emotional read at times and quite heartfelt, but I felt like it didn't hit me as much as it could have.

The writing style was easy to follow.

I feel like I could have connected to the characters and story a lot more than I did.

Overall, this was an enjoyable read.