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Wednesday, July 11, 2018

BLOG TOUR + #GIVEAWAY: The Archivist by Christy Sloat @christysloat @GCReading

The Archivist by Christy Sloat
Genre: Upper YA
Series: The Librarian Chronicles #2 (companion novels)

"With the whimsy of Alice in Wonderland and the romance of Outlander dive back into the next installment in the Librarian Chronicles."

Savannah Preston has a rare and precious gift: The ability to time travel through books. She, and others who share this unique ability, are faced with the insurmountable task of preserving history. They are known collectively as The Librarians.

While researching infamous Scottish outlaw Sir Malcolm Wash during the raging conflicts of the 14th Century, Savannah loses the only thing that tethers her to her own time. She must rely on her knowledge of both the present and the past to survive long enough to find a way home. Along the way, she enlists the help of a misfit named Eoin. With his guidance, she might just get home. It’s a risky and dangerous adventure, but then, so is Eoin…


I greatly enjoyed reading The Archivist, and was intrigued enough to buy the first book in the series and put it on my TBR list for the coming future. The Archivist is actually the second book in The Librarian Chronicles, but it can be read as a stand-alone just fine. I can attest to that, as I had no context coming into this book and understood it just fine.

Savannah gets to travel to other times through books in order to properly record what happened in history--as we know, historians aren't always right. Savannah loves her job, even though it's caused a lot of tension between her and her mother--tension that may be irreparable, unfortunately. This book did deal with a very rocky mother-daughter relationship, with some abusive words being thrown Savannah's way. Just mentioning that for anyone who may be uncomfortable with that situation.

One day, Savannah gets forcibly thrust back in time to 14th century Scotland, and ends up stranded without a way to get back. This leads her to meet Eoin, who at first is rude and gruff. But, Savannah needs Eoin's help to find something very important that was lost, and is the key to getting back to her time. I loved reading about Savannah and Eoin's budding romance! I have to say, even though my experience with Scottish love interests has been very few, I realize I have a total thing for Scottish guys in books?? Hell yes! Especially when the author is able to make the Scottish accent shine through the text and for it to feel super natural--Christy Sloat was able to do just that, and Eoin was all better for it. *dreamy sigh* Is the romance quick to ignite? Yes, it is. Did it feel forced? Not at all! Savannah and Eoin fall for each other in what feels like a totally natural and necessary way.

In terms of plot, it's not action packed, but the stakes were high enough to keep me interested the whole time and to wonder how it would all resolve. I have to say I'm pretty happy how it turned out, and I'll be eagerly following this series--and Christy Sloat's future work--for more!

4 stars.

About the Author

Christy Sloat resides in New Jersey with her husband, two daughters and her Chihuahua, Sophie. Christy has embraced the love of reading and writing since her youth and was inspired by her grandmother's loving support. She loves adventurous journeys with her friends and can be known to get lost inside a bookstore. She is the bestselling author of fourteen novels including, The Librarian, The Visitors Series, The Past Lives Series and the award-winning Slumber Duology.


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This review copy was provided for free in exchange for an honest review. All views expressed above are solely my own. Affiliate links for Amazon included.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Clearing My Shelves #Giveaway: Memento Nora ARC by Angie Smibert @amsmibert

Clearing My Bookshelves is a feature I'm doing to move books I've read to new and loving homes. I don't want them to be sitting on my shelves gathering dust, so I'm going through all my books and giving them away! Lucky for you guys ;)

On an otherwise glossy day, a blast goes off and a body thuds to the ground at Nora's feet. There are terrorist attacks in the city all the time, but Nora can't forget.

In Nora's world you don't have to put up with nightmares. Nora goes with her mother to TFC--a Therapeutic Forgetting Clinic. There, she can describe her horrible memory and take a pill to erase it so she can go on like nothing ever happened. But at TFC a chance encounter with a mysterious guy changes Nora's life. She doesn't take the pill. And when Nora learns the memory her mother has chosen to forget, she realizes that someone needs to remember.

With newfound friends Micah and Winter, Nora makes a comic book of their memories called Memento. Memento is an instant hit, but it sets off a dangerous chain of events. Will Nora, Micah, and Winter be forced to take the Big Pill that will erase their memories forever?

Angie Smibert's remarkable debut novel takes readers on a thrilling ride through a shadowy world where corporations secretly rule and consumerism is praised above all.
Giveaway Rules

  1. Must be 18 or older to enter
  2. US only.
  3. You have 48 hours to reply to winning email, and then I will move on to the next person.
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Friday, July 6, 2018

Clearing My Bookshelves #Giveaway: Wither ARC by @LaurenDeStefano

Clearing My Bookshelves is a feature I'm doing to move books I've read to new and loving homes. I don't want them to be sitting on my shelves gathering dust, so I'm going through all my books and giving them away! Lucky for you guys ;)

Today's bounty is the ARC I received of Wither by Lauren DeStefano
By age sixteen, Rhine Ellery has four years left to live. She can thank modern science for this genetic time bomb. A botched effort to create a perfect race has left all males with a lifespan of 25 years, and females with a lifespan of 20 years. Geneticists are seeking a miracle antidote to restore the human race, desperate orphans crowd the population, crime and poverty have skyrocketed, and young girls are being kidnapped and sold as polygamous brides to bear more children.

When Rhine is kidnapped and sold as a bride, she vows to do all she can to escape. Her husband, Linden, is hopelessly in love with her, and Rhine can't bring herself to hate him as much as she'd like to. He opens her to a magical world of wealth and illusion she never thought existed, and it almost makes it possible to ignore the clock ticking away her short life. But Rhine quickly learns that not everything in her new husband's strange world is what it seems. Her father-in-law, an eccentric doctor bent on finding the antidote, is hoarding corpses in the basement. Her fellow sister wives are to be trusted one day and feared the next, and Rhine is desperate to communicate to her twin brother that she is safe and alive. Will Rhine be able to escape--before her time runs out?

Together with one of Linden's servants, Gabriel, Rhine attempts to escape just before her seventeenth birthday. But in a world that continues to spiral into anarchy, is there any hope for freedom?
Giveaway Rules

  1. Must be 18 or older to enter
  2. US only.
  3. You have 48 hours to reply to winning email, and then I will move on to the next person.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Review: Miss Mabel's School for Girls by Katie Cross

Miss Mabel's School for Girls
Pages: 316
Publisher: Antebellum Publishing
Genre: YA Fantasy
#1 in Series
Source: Purchased
Never underestimate the power of a determined witch.

Letum Wood is a forest of fog and deadfall, home to the quietly famous Miss Mabel’s School for Girls, a place where young witches learn the art of magic.

Sixteen-year-old Bianca Monroe has inherited a deadly curse. Determined to break free before it kills her, she enrolls in the respected school to confront the cunning witch who cast the curse: Miss Mabel.

Bianca finds herself faced with dark magic she didn’t expect, with lessons more dangerous than she could have ever imagined. Will Bianca have the courage to save herself from the curse, or will Miss Mabel’s sinister plan be too powerful?

Miss Mabel’s School for Girls is the first novel in The Network Series, an exciting new fantasy collection. A gripping tale about the struggle to survive, it will take you to a new place and time, one you’ll never want to leave.

“Your first job in every confrontation is to establish your opponent’s weakness. Strategy starts with weak spots.” 
Miss Mabel's School for Girls could have been a real MVP among YA witch novels. All girls' magical school? Awesome, I'm with it. Main character who is strong and smart? Give it to me. No pesky insta-love to derail our MC from her objective? Fantastic!

I regret to report that Miss Mabel's School for Girls did not meet my expectations. It actually took me quite awhile to finish MMSFG. According to Goodreads, I started in on August 11, 2017 and finished it on June 8th, 2018. Almost a year. Yikes.

What I think put me off the most was how slow going the book was. This was the epitome of a "character driven" book, in that we spent so much time in Bianca's head because that's all she did--she thought about everything. She never just did things. Because of that, I felt the book lulled and never pulled me in enough. As you can see from my GR comments, it was around two-thirds of the book that I felt the plot finally started to be compelling enough to warrant me to finish it in one sitting.
"Pressure and responsibility are driving forces, but only knowledge creates power."
Honestly, I don't have much to say about MMSFG other than I wanted more from it. It's Katie Cross's first book and lately I've been making a point to not rag on debut novels so harshly because I understand that novels are tough to write and putting them out there is like putting a piece of your soul on display. So, my best constructive criticism would be to level out the world-building with the character-building. A lot of people seem to be comparing this to Harry Potter, which I didn't see at all, but one point I want to make about HP is that it was so successfully because JK Rowling struck that sweet spot between making a wonderful magical world so believable, as well as a well rounded cast of characters that we got to know very intimately. When writing fantasy and magic stories, there's so much opportunity to really go ham with the surroundings and invent things to delight us readers. I wanted to see more of that, is all.

Bianca has a tough road ahead of her, having bound herself to Miss Mabel in order to break the curse on her. I think I would be interested to see where the story goes, but I'll be honest that it's not a priority.

Miss Mabel's School for Girls is available for purchase on Kindle, as a paperback, or as an audiobook

About the Author
My world revolves around my husband (who is a major hottie), my Vizsla’s, and the mountains.

I wear hiking boots instead of heels when I need to feel powerful, and on a bad day, I love a weightlifting workout. Actually, I love it on a good day.

I don’t eat bread because my thyroid doesn’t like it, although there are days I miss it. Especially ciabatta. Sweet potatoes are kind of my thing. Cookies too.

I write because I never stopped.

Miss Mabel's School for Girls is my first novel. More to follow.
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Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Review: Breakwater by Catherine Jones Payne @cjonespayne

Pages: 240
Publisher: Fathom Ink Press
Genre: YA Fantasy
#1 in Series
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Mermaids. Murder. Mayhem.

A red tide is rising.

As the daughter of one of the mer-king’s trusted advisors, seventeen-year-old Jade has great responsibilities. When her fiancĂ© murders a naiad, plunging the underwater city of Thessalonike into uproar, tensions surge between the mer and the naiads. Jade learns too late that the choices she makes ripple further than she'd ever imagined. And as she fights against the tide of anger in a city that lives for scandal, she discovers danger lurking in every canal, imperiling her family and shattering the ocean's fragile peace.

Can the city's divisions be mended before the upwelling of hate rips apart everything Jade loves?

I will begin by stating the absolute obvious, which is that this cover is one of the most beautiful covers I've ever seen in my life. Bra-freaking-vo to the illustrator that made that magic flow through their fingertips.

This book surprised me. The subject matter is especially pertinent in our current socio-political climate. It centers around Jade, who becomes embroiled in political conflict after she finds the corpse of a naiad in the arms of her betrothed. Jade does the right thing and reports the murder to the police, which throws her life into chaos as the upper echelons of mer society view her as a traitor and political tensions between the mers and the naiads rise.

One thing I want to highlight that I greatly enjoyed was the worldbuilding. Not just of Thessalonike itself, but of the full underwater experience. The way they dressed, the way they ate, even the way they spoke. It felt truly immersive, not like someone took regular earth culture and stuck it underwater. Catherine Jones Payne did a great job of creating the world and the unique behaviors of an underwater society.

When the story first began, Jade was your typical rich daughter of a noble. She wasn't stuck up or snooty, but she was happy to play the part and get engaged to another high ranking noble. As a character, she had a definable arc throughout the story in that we see her evolve from that, to someone who is aware of the glaring inequality that exists between the mer and the naiad and does what she can to help the divide. In prosecuting Tor (her former fiance), Jade sets a precedent that naiads are not second class citizens and deserve the same justice that a mermaid would.

The story does revolve heavily around that plot point, however. I'd call this a plot-driven story, rather an a character-driven story. What I mean by that is we never get to see any of the characters in a context other than how they're reacting to the scandal. Most stories have moments where they'll remove the characters from the plot for a few scenes so we as the reader can get a more fleshed out idea of them. We get to see brief flashbacks or conversations about the past, but we never really get the richness of character that I usually like to see. If I had one critique of this book, it would be that I wanted more character development. While Jade did get a full emotional arc, none of the other characters saw any growth.

Overall, this story turned out to be very different from what I expected. Perhaps it's just genre bias, but I expected romance, of which there wasn't much. Instead, this turned out to be a novel about politics and racial inequality--which is cooler!

Breakwater is available for purchase for Kindle, and as a paperback

About the Author
Catherine Jones Payne is a Seattle native who loves the written word, international travel, crashing waves, and good coffee. Her earliest memory involves pulling up a rolling chair to her parents’ old DOS computer—while wearing a tiara, naturally—and tapping out a story of kidnapped princesses. By day she’s the managing editor of Quill Pen Editorial and the editor of Splickety Magazine. She lives in Waco, TX with her historian husband and their cats, Mildred and Minerva.

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Tuesday, July 3, 2018

#GIVEAWAY + Review: Pearl by Deirdre Riordan Hall @DeirdreSpark @AmazonPub

Pages: 342
Publisher: Skyscape
Genre: YA Contemprary
Source: Publisher
Run fast and run far, unless you’re fearless. Unless you’re courageous. I’m not, but I’d like to be.

Pearl Jaeger is seventeen and homeless after drugs, poverty, and addiction unraveled the life she shared with JJ, her formerly glamorous rock star mother.

This moment of happiness is fleeting; someone will take it from me.

When tragedy brings a chance to start over at an elite boarding school, she doesn’t hesitate. Yet the only salvation comes from an art teacher as troubled as Pearl, and she faces the stark reality that what she thought she wanted isn’t straightforward.

I trace the outline of my reflection in a window. I am no more than a replica of my mother. This is not the self-portrait I want to paint.

Through the friendships she forms at school—especially with Grant, a boy who shows Pearl what it means to trust and forgive—she begins to see a path not defined by her past. But when confronted with the decision to be courageous or to take the easy way forged by her mother’s failures, which direction will Pearl choose?

“The only enemy you have is yourself. Stay there, with her, until you aren’t enemies anymore.”

Pearl was a novel I didn't think I'd enjoy that ended up completely surprising me. It's a very in depth look at what trauma, abuse, and growing up around addiction will do to someone, especially a teenage girl.

Pearl is the daughter of washed up former rock star Janet Jaeger--or JJ, as others call her. JJ used to have it all--fame, money, designer clothes, an ardent fanbase. But, slowly and surely, all of that fell away as JJ blew her money on drugs and made a series of poor choices that ended up with Pearl taking on the responsibility of taking care of her mother. For Pearl's whole life, JJ has put her addiction before everything... even Pearl.

Trauma and addiction are tricky things to write about, and even tricker as a reader to be able to digest.  Even if you've never had experience with the subject matter, being in a character's head and having those emotions dredged up in you can be off-putting. It can go horribly wrong, or in this case, pristinely right. This book was long, and a little slow to get through, but it's because we got such deep and poignant insight into who Pearl was and exactly what went on in her head. I see some reviews that list this as a negative, but I see it as an absolute positive. Someone who's been through what Pearl has would always be thinking thinking thinking because that's what trauma does to you. Your brain cannot rest. I thought the way Hall wrote the story, with such beautiful prose that evoked vivid imagery and intense emotion, was what made this story. I'm a stickler for "clear and concise" more than anyone I know, but Pearl just worked.

Pearl was just trying to find who she was. After spending her whole life worrying about her mom, getting them out of bad situations like JJ's abusive and cracked out boyfriends, and basically being the adult in the relationship, Pearl doesn't know who she is without her mother. She's never had the chance to explore herself, aside from the times she stole away from reality to sketch in her notebook and admire the pages of Vogue that she would purchase by scrounging up loose change she could find. At it's core, Pearl was about Pearl becoming herself. Discovering what it meant to be PJ, the nickname she gives herself and the girl who is in charge of her own life, instead of Pearl Jaeger, daughter of the infamous drug addict.

At the boarding school Pearl is sent to, she meets a whole host of interesting people. She creates an unlikely friendship with her goody goody roommate Charmindy, and a not so unlikely friendship with "bad girl" Sorel. Interestingly, Pearl's friendship with Sorel allowed her to explore some of the dynamics Pearl had with her mother, but on a less personal and toxic level. The friendships Pearl makes are invaluable to her finding her way through life. Through Sorel, Pearl meets Grant and they have an instant connection. The romance in this novel was not the central aspect, and honestly it didn't capture me the way it should have. But, Pearl's relationship with Grant was yet another facet of herself she had to eek out and discover, and while it brought its fair share of heartbreak, it also brought her mountains of personal growth and discovery.

Pearl falls into a similar spiral that her mother does, and ends up "self-medicating" her emotions with drugs and alcohol. While away at summer school, she gets swept up by a glitzy and glimmering group of friends who introduce her to the party life and Pearl seems to lose the progress she's made so far. It's so frustrating to be rooting her on, knowing she's so much better than this, but to see her make the same mistakes her mother made anyway. But, hitting her own version of rock bottom, even when she thought she couldn't go any lower, allows Pearl to climb her way out and find equilibrium again.

Overall, I greatly enjoyed Pearl. Not an actual visceral enjoyment, because the book itself is very emotional and oftentimes painful. But, the fact that it elicited such a response from me is important. I do recommend it, as long as you don't have any issues with reading about drug use.

Pearl is available as a Kindle download, hardcover, paperback, and audiobook

About the Author
Deirdre studied at George Washington University. She enjoys writing, reading, surfing, and yoga. One of the best things about those activities is they're all done barefoot. Although she loves shoes, she doesn't like to wear them.

Deirdre writes upper young adult and new adult fiction. She spends her days with her family, at the custom-made desk her husband crafted—writing (what else?) or seaside, pretending she's a mermaid.

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I'll be giving away my paperback copy of Pearl! US only, must be 18 or older to enter!

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This review copy was provided for free in exchange for an honest review. All views expressed above are solely my own. Amazon affiliate links included.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Clearing My Bookshelves #Giveaway: Sirenz and Sirenz Back in Fashion by @charbennardo and Natalie Zaman

Clearing My Bookshelves is a feature I'm doing to move books I've read to new and loving homes. I don't want them to be sitting on my shelves gathering dust, so I'm going through all my books and giving them away! Lucky for you guys ;)

Today, I'm giving away not one, but TWO books! One lucky winner will have a chance to win Sirenz and it's sequel Sirenz Back in Fashion.
Bickering frenemies Meg and Shar are doing some serious damage at a midnight sample sale when the fashionistas find themselves arguing over a pair of shoes - with fatal consequences. One innocent bystander later, the girls are suddenly at the mercy of Hades, Lord of the Underworld himself. To make them atone for what they've done, Hades forces the teens to become special-assignment Sirens, luring to the Underworld an individual whose unholy contract is up.

Finding that delicate balance between their fashion addiction and their new part-time job in the eternal hellfire biz turns out to be harder than Meg and Shar expected, especially when an entire pantheon of Greek deities decides to get involved. Then there's the matter of the fine print in their own contracts…

It’s Hell on heels—again! When Shar tries on a Tiffany’s diamond ring from Hades, the annoyingly hot Lord of the Underworld, it activates an obscure contractual clause that puts Shar and former-frenemy-turned-friend Meg in Hades’ service once more. Shar is whisked away to prepare a ball, while Meg is sent to help a spoiled rich girl. Just when it appears the girls will be doomed to serve Hades for eternity, two gorgeous demigods show up. But can the girls finally ditch Hades forever?

Giveaway is US only! Must be 18 or older to enter. 
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Sunday, July 1, 2018

June 2018 Wrap-Up

June was a pretty good month for me! I did lots of reading, and had managed to schedule the entire month in advance so I had a post up almost every day of the month!

Books Read

Breakwater by Catherine Jones PayneAmazon | Goodreads
Pearl by Deirdre Riordan HallAmazon | Goodreads
Miss Mabel's School for Girls by Katie CrossAmazon | Goodreads
Natural Mage by K.F. BreeneAmazon | Goodreads
The Red Queen's Daughter by Jacqueline KolosovAmazon | Goodreads
My Lullaby of Your by Alia RoseAmazon | Goodreads
The Archivist by Christy SloatAmazon | Goodreads
Elixir by Hillary DuffAmazon | Goodreads

The two stand outs from the bunch are Pearl and The Archivist. Both vastly different stories, but I loved them. My reviews for all of these are coming soon! A book that pleasantly surprised me with how much I enjoyed it was Elixir. 

Reviews Posted

To Stir a Fae's Passion by Nadine Mutas 5 stars
The Rift Walker by Clay and Susan Griffith 5 stars
The Goblins of Bellwater by Molly Ringle 4 stars
Covert Fae by C.N Crawford 3 stars
Celestial Magic by Emma L. Adams 4 stars
To Enthrall the Demon Lord by Nadine Mutas 5 Stars
Lament by Maggie Steifvater 4 stars
Black Ops Fae by C.N. Crawford 4 stars
Beyond the Veil by Pippa DaCosta 4 stars
Blood Oath by Raye Wagner and Kelly St. Clare 4.5 stars
The Way I Used to Be by Amber Smith 5 stars
Natural Witch by K.F. Breene 4.5 stars
The Eighth House by Eris Adderly 2 stars
Pestilence by Laura Thalassa 3 stars

Discussion Posts

Cover Trends: The Hot Girl with a Weapon
The Great Book Giveaway Mission
3 Ways to Read More When You Have a Bunch of Stuff to Do
3 ways the book blogging world has completely changed: notes from an OG book blogger

Personal Life

This month was BIG for me. I paid off all of my student loans. ALL OF THEM. Almost $40k, all gone and out of my life forever. I plan on buying a home with my boyfriend in a few years, so until that time when I apply for a mortgage, I will have absolutely no debt. That's crazy. Insanity.


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