Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday #125

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event that is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine and spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.


Cassie's Waiting On: 

Blood and Sand by C.V. Wyk
Blood and SandPublication Date: January 16th, 2018

Synopsis:


Roma Victor. The Republic of Rome is on a relentless march to build an empire--an empire built on the backs of the conquered, brought back to Rome as slaves.

Attia was once destined to rule as the queen and swordmaiden of Thrace, the greatest warrior kingdom the world had seen since Sparta. Now she is a slave, given to Xanthus, the Champion of Rome, as a sign of his master's favor. Enslaved as a child, Xanthus is the preeminent gladiator of his generation.

Against all odds, Attia and Xanthus form a tentative bond. A bond that will spark a rebellion. A rebellion that threatens to bring the Roman Republic to its end--and gives rise to the legend of Spartacus....
 


This seriously sounds AMAZING!!!! I am so happy I stumbled upon this book because who doesn't want to read a book about a warrior princess and a handsome gladiator?! I honestly can't wait until this book comes out and I hope it's as good as I'm imagining it will be :)

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Blog Tour: Hinder

About the Book:
Title: Hinder (Guardian of Monsters #1)
Author: Kristin Ping
Publication date: May 15th 2018
Genres: Fantasy, New Adult, Paranormal
Rating: 3/5 stars

Synopsis: 
Ethan Sutcliff seems like a normal seventeen-year-old—at least that’s what he’s trying to portray. In a secret society run by the Supernaturals, Ethan is what witches call a Bender. Benders are Witches’ Guardians, who are able to control a witches’ ability, bend it, or move it away from harming humans. In Ethan’s case, he is able to bend the Earth element. But at the age of fifteen, he lost all connection to it, and the reasons behind it could only mean one of two things: His Wielder is either dead, or hiding out somewhere.
Alex Burgendorf has been living in her aunt’s locket for the past sixteen years with her mother—a Fire Wielder, and her father—a Water Wielder. For sixteen years, her parents vowed to protect her, and they have, as she is the last Earth wielding witch. However, time is running out. Alex must find her Bender, or the fate of the Supernaturals might be at stake.

Author Bio:
Kristin resides in South Africa with her husband, two beautiful girls and two bulldogs that tries to eat her house.
She has been writing for the past eight years and her first debut novel, Hinder: A Bender’s novel will be published 2018 by Fire Quill Publishing.
When she isn’t writing, she is spending her time with her family, or trying to teach her two bulldogs to not eat her house. You can find more about Kristin at www.authorkristinping.com


Review:

Hinder by Kristin Ping is a refreshing read that is fun and unique. Even though it's about magic, witches, and demons, Ms. Ping puts her own creative spin on the fantasy genre that many will enjoy. I would have loved to give this book 4 stars (or higher) but there were several things that made me lower my rating to a 3. I really loved the concept of this book and I'm excited to see where the series goes from here. 

The story follows Alex and Ethan...two people who don't know the other exists but are trying to find the other. Ms. Ping immediately sweeps you away into a fantastical world of witches, benders and wielders, and an evil enemy. I truly loved this part of the story because it was so unlike anything I had read previously. I loved learning about this new world!! It was fun and exciting, and Ms. Ping offered plenty of twists that I didn't see coming. The more I read of this story, the more invested in the world I became. There are a lot of questions left unanswered by the end of the book so I'm excited to see how she continues to build the world up and answer some of these questions. 

However, the one thing I had a small problem with in the beginning was that it was basically an "info-dump." The reader learns a little bit more throughout the book, but the first 2 chapters are where you find out all of the info that you need to set up/understand the story and plot. I do wish it was spaced out a little more but I didn't mind this too much. It just meant I could jump into the story faster. 

Ms. Ping's writing is great and she gave her characters a lot of spunk. While marketed as an NA novel, I would say this could also be geared toward older YA. I personally loved the banter between the characters and the "adult" moments. Also, the fact that family plays such a huge role in this story really made me love it that much more. It was a welcoming change from most books where the family basically disappears and the main characters are left to fend for themselves. Instead, Ms. Ping incorporates them into the story and gives them a huge role to play as not only mentors, but as...wait for it.... actual parents . I can't stress enough how important this was because let me tell you, I'm all for parents who actually parent. This is rarely done in YA/NA books and I'm glad that Ms. Ping decided to incorporate them into the story! 

For the most part, Alex and Ethan were developed as characters but I definitely would have liked a little more. The book is told from dual POV (Alex and Ethan), and Alex had a great internal monologue that I loved. She was the perfect lead for the story and I enjoyed her journey during the novel. I loved seeing her grow and become a more independent person. Ethan was also a decent character to follow--he's the typical good-guy jock. But I didn't like him as much as I wanted to...especially since he is the other main character AND the love interest in this book. Perhaps the biggest reason for this was the fact that he referred to girls as different animals. He repeatedly said throughout the book that he knew it was wrong to do this, but it never once stopped him. I wanted to see him grow out of this habit by the end of the book, but he never did. I felt this aspect of his character was unnecessary and it made me dislike his character a lot. 

This series has a lot of potential and I'm interested to see where Ms. Ping takes the story! I would recommend checking the story out because it is a unique read and fun. There are a lot of plot twists that took the story in a different direction than I was expecting. I am excited to check out the sequel and see what new adventures await for both Alex and Ethan!

                                            

Happy reading :)


XBTBanner1
~Cassie

Monday, December 11, 2017

Book Review: Violet Grenade

Violet Grenade by Victoria ScottAbout the Book:
Title: Violet Grenade
Author: Victoria Scott
Pub. Date: May 16, 2017
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Pages: 300
Rating: 4/5 stars


Synopsis:

Her name is Domino Ray.

But the voice inside her head has a different name.

When the mysterious Ms. Karina finds Domino in an alleyway, she offers her a position at her girls’ home in secluded West Texas. With no alternatives and an agenda of her own, Domino accepts. It isn’t long before she is fighting her way up the ranks to gain the woman’s approval…and falling for Cain, the mysterious boy living in the basement.

But the home has horrible secrets. So do the girls living there. So does Cain.

Escaping is harder than Domino expects, though, because Ms. Karina doesn’t like to lose inventory. But then, she doesn’t know about the danger living inside Domino’s mind.

She doesn’t know about Wilson.
 

Review:

Obviously I was going to read this book because 1) the cover is GORGEOUS, and 2) it's by Victoria Scott. I have loved everything this woman has written so far, and I knew this wouldn't be an exception. But I will say, I wasn't expecting to like it quite as much as I did. This definitely is very different than what we have read from Ms. Scott previously, but I was here for it! I flew through this book, and read it in almost 1 sitting (the only reason I couldn't read it in 1 was because I had an exam the next day and girl needs some sleep before an exam). This book is incredibly fast-paced and has plenty of twists and turns that mean you can't trust anyone .

Domino is a runaway who is living on the streets of Chicago just trying to get by. She has some violent tendencies, but when everything goes down...she finds herself accepting a place at Madame Karina's Home for Girls. Sketchy? 100%. Is it what you think? Probably not...because it's actually much worse. But Domino needs a way out, and she's willing to do anything and be anyone in order to do so. Domino is a fighter through and through, and as she finds herself advancing through the ranks quicker than normal, she realizes that not everything is as it appears and that she needs to get out...like now. 

Domino herself is an excellent lead. We find out bits and pieces about her life throughout the entire story and boy is it a doozy! The entire book is a crazy roller coaster ride of dark secrets and horrors that you wouldn't even think of in your wildest daydreams. But this is what made this book oh-so-good. Domino's secrets, especially Wilson, was one of the many surprising twists about this book, and with every twist I was left hanging on the edge of my seat. Speaking of Wilson, I don't know if I was supposed to love him as much as I did, but let me tell you...whenever he showed up in the story, I knew you know what was about to hit the fan and it was going down. These were easily some of the most awesome scenes in this book. Victoria Scott knows how to tell a good story, and this one is probably her best work yet! 

I honestly don't know how Victoria Scott came up with the idea for this book, but I'm sure glad she did. It was unlike anything I have ever read and I loved the unique-ness of the story/plot. The book was the perfect length as well, and I loved every single sentence. I also adored the friendship that arose during Domino's time at Madame Karina's. The loyalty that formed between the two characters was completely unexpected and added yet another element to the book that made me love the story more. Check this book out now! You won't regret it!!


Happy reading :)

~Cassie

Friday, December 8, 2017

Book Blitz: Abroad (Book Two)

About the Book:
Title: Abroad: Book Two
Author: Liz Jacobs
Publication date: January 2nd 2018
Genres: New Adult, Romance

Synopsis: 
The heartwarming and romantic conclusion to the duology celebrated by Teen Vogue as “a nuanced and sexy take on growing up and learning to accept who you are.”
Nick Melnikov has finally done it — he’s come out.
To himself. To his sister. And to Dex, who listens, hears him, and understands. To Dex, who kisses him and shows him all that they could be, if Nick could only find the courage. It’s one thing to let yourself be open thousands of miles away from your family, but exchange student Nick is uncomfortably aware that his time with Dex is running out. Who will he be when he goes home again?
Dex Cartwell is as happy with Nick as he’s ever been, but he can’t ignore the shadow of Nick’s inevitable departure from London, back to his life in Michigan. Is it worth it for Dex to expose his heart to another doomed relationship with a predetermined expiration date? What does Dex really want for the beginning of the next chapter in his life, post-graduation?
Dex wants to turn to his best friend in the struggle to find a way forward, but Izzy Jones has her own problems. She’s got one friend in love with her, and when she turns to another for help things get twice as complicated. Izzy never wanted complicated, but life just keeps getting in the way — and sweeping her off her feet.
Then Nick’s mom and sister come for a visit, and he is forced to decide between living his truth and protecting himself from fear and change. It’s going to take a lot of courage and a few leaps in the dark if Nick, Dex, and Izzy are to find a way to live and love on their own terms.

ABROAD Book One is on sale for 99¢ for a limited time only!
EXCERPT:

A shift next to Nick, then a sigh. He froze. Had he woken Dex up after all?
He waited as Dex moved behind him, and then the futon shifted. Dex was up. Nick turned over, only to see him escape quietly out of the study.
Nick took advantage of it and shifted into a position he could maybe fall asleep in, provided he could shut his fucking brain up. God, sleeping next to another person was stressful as hell. He and Lena did it rarely enough that he had never managed to get used to it. Dex didn’t seem to have this problem. Again, Nick’s lack of experience made him squirm.
Dex came back shortly, kneeing his way up the futon, his body graceful in the dark. Nick swallowed. “Hi.”
“You’re awake!” Dex plopped down next to him and immediately cuddled up, their knees meeting. “Did I wake you? Sorry.”
“No, I wasn’t asleep yet.” Nick wished he hadn’t said it the moment it left his mouth.
“You all right?” He almost jumped when Dex’s hand found his side, wrapped around his back.
“Yeah,” he lied. “Maybe just not tired.”
The shadow of Dex’s face loomed closer, then Dex’s breath fanned over his face. A kiss—a peck really—to his lips. “Sorry.”
It was so much darker here than in London. “Not your fault.”
Their voices were quiet, almost whispers. Dex sounded uncertain when he said, “I hope you like Easter. It’s one of Mum’s favorites.”
“I’m excited,” Nick said. He sort of was. The only Easter thing he had ever done was dye eggs in school as a kid, back in Russia. “I’m sure it’ll be great.”
Dex sighed. “This is weird, isn’t it?”
“Which part?” Nick tensed.
“Just, you know. You, meeting my folks. I mean, the last boyfriend of mine they met was the one I had in school for, like, a month.”
“Well, the last set of parents I met were my parents’ friends, so … ”
“Is that … parents of someone you dated?” Dex sounded careful. Nick sighed. He hadn’t meant to open up this door, but Dex had been so generous with his past. It was probably time for Nick to mirror him.
“Yeah, my girlfriend. My ex-girlfriend, I mean. We dated in high school and college.”
“That long, huh?”
More than one question in his voice, Nick knew. He was so glad they were in the total dark. He squirmed. “Yeah. I mean, I did … you know, I did like her. We were best friends. I … I really messed that up when we broke up.”
“When was that?”
“Just this past summer,” Nick breathed.
“Was it … why? Who broke up with whom?”
Nick chewed the question over. He still didn’t know what had given him the courage to do the right thing, as it were. He hadn’t ever really felt comfortable with Lena, not in a physical relationship, anyway. He loved her so much, and he’d hated having her as a girlfriend. Just as he would have hated having any girl for a partner.
“I did. Before I left for London. I mean, I think … I think I used that as the overall reason, but really, it was because … ” He sighed.
“Because you’re gay?” Again, Dex sounded careful, tender, even.
Nick’s breath whooshed out of him. “Yeah. I didn’t tell her that, though.”
“She didn’t take the breakup well?”
Nick screwed up his eyes. Thoughts of Lena always brought on intense flushes of shame, peculiar only to her. He had used her, whether as a cover for others or for himself, he had used her, and discarded her. She deserved so much better than him. “No,” he whispered. “She … she kind of hates me now.”
“Would you … I mean. Would you consider telling her?”
Nick swallowed. “Telling her what?”
“That you’re, you know. Gay.”
The very thought made him wince. How could he? What if she felt more hurt? What if she would hate him even more, if that was even possible? What if—what if she told her parents, who would—no. God. No, he couldn’t—he couldn’t even imagine that. He couldn’t imagine anyone besides Zoya knowing, he couldn’t even form an image, it was all static in his mind. Could he ever look them in the eye, knowing that they knew he was into boys, into—no. He recoiled from the very idea, felt sweat break out on his back, soaking into his t-shirt.
“N-no, I—I don’t know. I can’t … I don’t think I could.”
“Why? What could happen?” Dex’s whisper sounded halting. Nick twisted away and Dex’s hand slipped off his side. They were only touching at the knees.
“I just … I guess I’d never thought about it,” he said. Maybe if he pretended to keep the demons in the past …
“That makes sense,” Dex said. “‘S all right.” Again he leaned in and kissed him. Then he turned over. “We should probably sleep, long day tomorrow.”
Nick felt cold everywhere Dex had been touching him. He made himself roll over and get into a good position for sleep. If he ever did sleep. “Good night,” he whispered, but it had been so quiet, he wasn’t sure Dex had heard.

Author Bio:
Liz Jacobs came over with her family from Russia at the age of 11, as a Jewish refugee. All in all, her life has gotten steadily better since that moment. They settled in an ultra-liberal haven in the middle of New York State, which sort of helped her with the whole “grappling with her sexuality” business.
She has spent a lot of her time flitting from passion project to passion project, but writing remains her constant. She has flown planes, drawn, made jewelry, had an improbable internet encounter before it was cool, and successfully wooed the love of her life in a military-style campaign. She has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize for her essay on her family’s experience with immigration.

She currently lives with her wife in Massachusetts, splitting her time between her day job, writing, and watching a veritable boatload of British murder mysteries.


XBTBanner1
~Cassie

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday #124

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event that is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine and spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.


Cassie's Waiting On: 

Gunslinger Girl by Lyndsay Ely
Gunslinger GirlPublication Date: January 2nd, 2018

Synopsis:


James Patterson presents a bold new heroine--a cross between Katniss Everdeen and Annie Oakley: Serendipity Jones, the fastest sharpshooter in tomorrow's West. 

Seventeen-year-old Serendipity "Pity" Jones inherited two things from her mother: a pair of six shooters and perfect aim. She's been offered a life of fame and fortune in Cessation, a glittering city where lawlessness is a way of life. But the price she pays for her freedom may be too great....


In this extraordinary debut from Lyndsay Ely, the West is once again wild after a Second Civil War fractures the U.S. into a broken, dangerous land. Pity's struggle against the dark and twisted underbelly of a corrupt city will haunt you long after the final bullet is shot.


This book just sounds AMAZING!!! I can't even tell you how excited I am for this book.  Everything I have heard about this book so far has been excellent and I've been looking for a really good Western-style YA novel, so I'm hoping this one is a winner!  

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Blog Tour: Delayed Departure

About the Book:
Title: Delayed Departure (Passports and Promises, #2)
Author: Abigail Drake
Publication date: August 16th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Synopsis: 
When Bethany Beaumont finds a book about life in the sultan’s harem, she discovers it’s actually a guide to the lost art of seduction. Just what she needs as she departs on a study abroad trip to exotic Istanbul. She’s struggling to get over her ex, and the book of dirty little secrets might be just the thing to help…if only she could find someone to practice on.
Half-Turkish and full of Australian swagger, teaching assistant Adam Kent seems to fit the bill. They decide to become lovers for the duration of the trip, and then part ways. Forever.

But not every lesson can be found in a book, and sometimes falling in love changes everything. When Bethany is forced to confront her past, and the promises she made to someone else, will it really be as easy as she thought to let Adam go?

Author Bio:
Abigail Drake has spent her life traveling the world, and collecting stories wherever she visited. She majored in Japanese and International Economics in college and worked in import/export and as an ESL teacher before she committed herself full time to writing. She writes in several romance genres, and her books are quirky, light, fun, and sexy.
Abigail is a trekkie, a book hoarder, the master of the Nespresso machine, a red wine addict, and the mother of three sons (probably the main reason for her red wine addiction). A puppy named Capone is the most recent addition to her family, and she blogs about him as a way of maintaining what little sanity she has left.

She is a member of Pennwriters, RWA, Three Rivers Romance Writers, Mindful Writers, Women's Fiction Writers, and the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. She teaches writing to children through the Young Writers' Institute and at local libraries.
Review:

Abigail Drake has made me fall in love once again with this sequel in the Passports and Promises series! I absolutely adored the first book in this series, Saying Goodbye, Part One Saying Goodbye, Part Two, but she outdid herself with this installment. With gorgeous writing and the sweetest romance, this is perfect for any romance lover. 

One of my favorite aspects of Abigail Drake's gorgeous prose is her attention to detail, but not too much detail. You are instantly transported to Istanbul, Turkey and every scene is richly described so you feel like you are right there sipping Turkish coffee with the characters. Honestly, this book makes me have so much wanderlust it's unbelievable. When I looked up the places the characters visited on Pinterest after finishing, I was awestruck with the beauty of the country while also blown away by the fact that I already knew what every place looked like due to the descriptions in the book. But Ms. Drake not only depicts the setting in the perfect way, but also her characters. You can easily tell how much love and effort she puts into writing the characters in all of her novels, and this book especially. 

I immediately fell in love with Bethany and Adam. They have undeniable chemistry and I'm always a sucker for the "hate you-love you" type romance. They're bickering and banter is classic and oh-so-perfect. I truly felt like I knew these characters way before the halfway point, and I loved watching both Bethany and Adam grow over the course of the novel. Bethany especially grows stronger and more confident. She finds a new strength in her that she didn't know she had and allows herself to be set free of the burdens plaguing her at home. Ultimately she allows herself to become the person she was always meant to be.

I highly recommend reading this novel (and this series in general) as it is truly a fantastic read that will sweep you away from the very start. Prepare to lose yourself in a gorgeously written story that reminds us all to break free and become our true selves. Check this out now!!

Happy reading :)


XBTBanner1
~Cassie

ARC Review: Undone (Unknown #3)

Undone (Unknown #3)About the Book:
Title: Undone (Unknown #3)
Author: Wendy Higgins
Pub. Date: December 5, 2017
Publisher: Wendy Higgins
Pages: 254
Rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis:

USA Today and New York Times bestselling author, Wendy Higgins, brings you the gripping, sensual conclusion to her apocalyptic trilogy.

Amber Tate never dreamed their heart-wrenching escape from the enemy’s attack would lead them to the most beautiful place she’s ever seen, marred by one ugly fact; it’s under enemy control. Like everywhere else in the world, Elmendorf military base in Alaska has been captured, and it’s time to take it back—all of it—one base, one city at a time. After losing so much, Amber clings to the only precious person she has left, and vows to sacrifice everything to help save the Earth.

Remy Haines is a lover, not a fighter, so when she finds herself in enemy territory, expected to feign allegiance while gathering intel for the rebel cause, she’s never been more out of her element. Tensions only increase when her feelings for Jacob “Tater” Tate won’t go away, and the enemy’s leader takes an interest in her. She’s torn between what her heart wants, and what she knows she should do. As for what her body needs…well, it’s always had a mind of its own.

Review:

Wendy Higgins has done it once again!! She has delivered an utterly perfect ending to a fantastic series. The Unknown series has quickly become one of my favorite series as it is unique, interesting, and just so much fun! I have no idea how Wendy Higgins came up with the idea for this trilogy but I'm very glad she did because it sucks you in from the get go, and this book is certainly no exception. I was eager to read this novel, especially after the ending of Unrest...suffice to say I was over the moon when I found out that I received an advanced copy. 

This novel picks up right where Unrest left off, and the story hits the ground running. Seriously, this book is action-packed and goes full force from the first page until the very last sentence. Told in alternating perspectives from Remy and Amber, we see two different perspectives of the same world. I loved that Wendy did this because it added a more complete element to the story. We needed to read from Remy's POV to see what it was like in the DRI camp and the scary things she faced every day. But we also needed to continue our journey with Amber to see how she would cope with the not only the capture of her best friend, but also her brother. 

Amber is such a strong character and just like in the previous novels, I loved reading her perspective. She has come so far over the course of the three books, and I really enjoyed seeing who she became by the end of the story. I will never tire of her and Rylen's love for each other, and let's just say there are some very interesting developments in their relationship in this book. Remy too has changed a great deal since the first book, and I loved watching her find her own in this book. She didn't have anyone to rely on except herself and she survived in the only way she could.  And despite everything that was going on at the camp, she didn't let the aliens change her in the most important ways.  Remy remained the kind and compassionate person she has been from the start! 

I highly recommend reading this book as soon as it comes out because you will not be disappointed!! Wendy Higgins delivers yet another hit that is full of action, exciting twists and turns that you will never see coming, and a bittersweet ending that will leave you with a gigantic smile on your face. I can't wait to see what she writes next!!

Happy reading :)

~Cassie