September 20, 2017

The Alchemyst by Michael Scott: A Book Review

Title: The Alchemyst (The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel #1)
Author: Michael Scott
Publisher: Ember
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magic
Release Date: June 24th 2008
Purchase: Amazon | BD | B&N

The truth: Nicholas Flamel was born in Paris on September 28, 1330. The records show that he died in 1418. But his tomb is empty.

The legend: Nicholas Flamel lives. The secret of eternal life is hidden within the book he protects—the Book of Abraham the Mage. It's the most powerful book that has ever existed, and in the wrong hands, it will destroy the world.

Which is exactly what Dr. John Dee plans to do when he steals it. And if the prophecy is right, Sophie and Josh Newman are the only ones with the power to save the world as we know it.

Sometimes legends are true.

And Sophie and Josh Newman are about to find themselves in the middle of the greatest legend of all time.

I really really wanted to love these books. I had bought the First Codex box set years ago with the anticipation of reading them but they got shelved and I never gave them a second glance until recently. 

The writing style of this just wasn't my cup of tea. While I loved the concept of this book, I just couldn't get past the first 3 chapters. If you want to give this a go for yourself, go into this one with an open mind.

Michael Scott is the New York Times bestselling author of The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series, an authority on mythology and folklore, and one of Ireland’s most successful authors. A master of fantasy, science fiction, horror, and folklore, Michael has been hailed by the Irish Times as “the King of Fantasy in these isles.” The Alchemyst is the first book in the Nicholas Flamel series. Look for book two, The Magician; book three, The Sorceress; book four, The Necromancer; book five, The Warlock; and book six, The Enchantress, all available from Delacorte Press.

Find Michael: Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter

September 19, 2017

Holiday Cookies: A Cookbook Review

Title: Holiday Cookies: Showstopping Recipes to Sweeten the Season
Author: Elisabet der Nederlanden
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Genre: Baking, How-To
Release Date: September 5th 2017
Source: Blogging For Books
Purchase: AmazonB&N

From Icebox Pinwheel Cookies to Red-and-White Meringue Kisses to Apple Cider Caramels, find new inspiration for the best of seasonal baking with Holiday Cookies.

This instant holiday classic is packed with 50 recipes, each gorgeously photographed and meticulously tested, along with dozens of decorating and packaging ideas. Filled with reimagined favorites like Giant Molasses Spice Cookies and Hazelnut Sandwich Cookies; confections like Peppermint Bark, Smoked Almond and Cacao Nib Brittle, and Dark Chocolate-Hazelnut Fudge; and detailed instructions for gorgeous gingerbread houses, cookie place cards, and edible ornaments, this is a cookie book like no other. Because the recipes are easy to scale up or down, Holiday Cookies is perfect for cookie exchanges, gift-giving, and just enjoying throughout the season. From a veteran baker and recipe developer, each cookie in this collection is guaranteed to be a stand-out, and destined to become your new Christmas classic.

Oh. My. Goodness! Can we say YUM?!! I am a complete fanatic of all things cookies. Cookies are just the ultimate sweet treat and the easiest and quickest thing to grab on the go when you have that sugar craving. I have recently been making all things cookies and found that you can even freeze most cookie dough and save for up to 3 months in your freezer. How handy is that!?

This book definitely did not let me down. So many yummy recipes and so little time. Even though this says holiday cookies you can bake these little awesome sweet treats any time of the year. Maybe even add different flavoring to some to make it more festive for any time of the year. 

I am anxiously awaiting my paycheck so I can go buy ingredients to get started on at least 4 of these little bad boys. Will definitely be making plenty for the holidays and even give as little gift baskets. Nothing says the holidays like something baked with love!

ELISABET DER NEDERLANDEN is a passionate professional baker and a graduate of the California Culinary Academy. She has worked as a food stylist and professional recipe developer/tester for commercial, advertising, and packaging projects. In addition, she has managed recipe testing and food styling for more than 30 cookbooks.
Find Elisabet: Website

September 18, 2017

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers: A Book Review

Title: Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin #1)
Author: Robin LaFevers
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Historical
Release Date: April 3rd 2012
Purchase: Amazon | BD | B&N

Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

Try as I may, I just could not get in to this book. I thought when I purchased it a few years ago that it was going to be some kick ass heroin type book, something like vengeance. But when I started to read this, the story fell flat for me. I mean, this girl was not but 17 years old, married off to the highest bidder technically and come her wedding night the guy is so plastered and drunk that he is ordering her to strip down so they can fornicate. When he realizes she has scars on her body he becomes furious and beats her and then leaves her for death. She is whisked away in the middle of the night to a convent run by an abbesses, but not just any one, this one does the devils bidding, by training young women to help the devil kill men. 

I'm sorry, but when I got this far, I just couldn't push myself through the rest of the torture of trying to read this. The plot sounds intriguing but I just couldn't seem to pick the book up again after the first few chapters. 

Robin LaFevers was raised on fairy tales, Bulfinch’s mythology, and nineteenth-century poetry. It is not surprising that she grew up to be a hopeless romantic. She was lucky enough to find her one true love, and is living happily ever after with him in California.

Find Robin: Website | Twitter | FacebookGoodreads

September 15, 2017

Blog Tour: When I Cast Your Shadow by Sarah Porter

Hi and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for When I Cast Your Shadow by Sarah Porter. Today I'm pleased to share with you a little about what the book is about and also a giveaway! So stick around and see what we have going on today.

A teenage girl calls her beloved older brother back from the grave with disastrous consequences.

Dashiell Bohnacker was hell on his family while he was alive. But it's even worse now that he's dead....

After her troubled older brother, Dashiell, dies of an overdose, sixteen-year-old Ruby is overcome by grief and longing. What she doesn't know is that Dashiell's ghost is using her nightly dreams of him as a way to possess her body and to persuade her twin brother, Everett, to submit to possession as well.

Dashiell tells Everett that he's returned from the Land of the Dead to tie up loose ends, but he's actually on the run from forces crueler and more powerful than anything the Bohnacker twins have ever imagined.... 

"Tragic and engrossing, filled with nightmarish dreamscapes and menacing villains, it also treads the tender terrain of family, and the strange and sometimes dysfunctional ties between siblings. Highly recommended!" ―Kendare Blake, New York Times bestselling author of Three Dark Crowns

"You'll never think of your nightmares the same way again. Darkly seductive. Sarah Porter’s writing glitters and her storytelling stuns in this twisted tale of siblings, love, and death." ―Stephanie Garber, New York Times bestselling author of Caraval

"Porter offers a poignant consideration of how far we will go for the people we love." ―School Library Journal, starred review

"A wildly innovative, whip-smart, and utterly spellbinding testament to family, memory, and love―and the messes and miracles of each―poised to possess legions of readers." ―Booklist, starred review

"A haunting tale of possession that explores the ghostly landscape of dreams and nightmares―but more importantly, the particular dynamics among siblings, both oppressive and redemptive." ―Kirkus Reviews

SARAH PORTER is the author of the Lost Voices Trilogy (Lost Voices, Waking Storms, The Twice Lost) in addition to Vassa in the Night—all for the teen audience. For over ten years she has taught creative writing workshops in New York City public schools to students in grades K-10. Porter also works as a VJ, both solo and with the art collective Fort/Da; she has played venues including Roseland, Galapagos, Tonic, Joe’s Pub, The Hammerstein Ballroom, The Nokia Theater, and the Burning Man festival. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two cats.

September 11th Monday Here's to Happy Endings REVIEW
September 12th Tuesday JeanBookNerd GUEST POST & EXCERPT
September 12th Tuesday Reading for the Stars and Moon REVIEW
September 13th Wednesday TTC Books and More REVIEW 
September 14th Thursday Bibliobibuli YA GUEST POST 
September 14th Thursday The Avid Reader EXCERPT
September 15th Friday Jump Into Books SPOTLIGHT
September 15th Friday Books, Dreams, Life TENS LIST 

September 18th Monday We Live and Breathe Books REVIEW
September 18th Monday Kendra Loves Books REVIEW
September 19th Tuesday CBY Book Club EXCERPT
September 19th Tuesday Sabrina's Paranormal Palace REVIEW 
September 20th Wednesday A Dream Within a Dream REVIEW & TENS LIST 
September 20th Wednesday Adventures Thru Wonderland REVIEW 
September 21st Thursday Movies, Shows, & Books REVIEW & EXCERPT
September 22nd Friday BookHounds YA TENS LIST 
September 22nd Friday Tara's Book Addiction REVIEW

- 5 Winners will receive a Copy of WHEN I CAST YOUR SHADOW by Sarah Porter.

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September 3, 2017

Beastly Bones by William Ritter: A Book Review

Title: Beastly Bones (Jackaby #2)
Author: William Ritter
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Paranormal
Release Date: September 22, 2015
Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

I've found very little about private detective R. F. Jackaby to be standard in the time I've known him. Working as his assistant tends to call for a somewhat flexible relationship with reality . . .

In 1892, New Fiddleham, New England, things are never quite what they seem, especially when Abigail Rook and her eccentric employer, R. F. Jackaby, are called upon to investigate the supernatural. First, members of a particularly vicious species of shape-shifters disguise themselves as a litter of kittens. A day later, their owner is found murdered, with a single mysterious puncture wound to her neck. Then, in nearby Gad's Valley, dinosaur bones from a recent dig go missing, and an unidentifiable beast attacks animals and people, leaving their mangled bodies behind. Policeman Charlie Cane, exiled from New Fiddleham to the valley, calls on Abigail for help, and soon Abigail and Jackaby are on the hunt for a thief, a monster, and a murderer.

In true Jackaby fashion, this book does not disappoint. I read the first book over a year prior and when I picked this up to read I wasn't lost and was easily pulled back in to a world where the unexplained paranormal exists and coincides with every day life and right under our noses. 

Abigail Rook and R.F. Jackaby are pulled into a case of shape shifters, chameleomorphs to be exact. While on the case they get side tracked with yet another case that takes them to Gads Valley where bones have been unearthed, strange deaths have happened and police officer Charlie Cane resides. 

We get to see more in depth traits on all characters including Jenny Cavanaugh the friendly specter who resides with the detective and Abigail. We also get to see Abigail develop some boldness when it comes to the handsome police officer. 

I'm very anxious to read the next book and find out about Jenny's death.

Find my review of Jackaby here

 At the University of Oregon, William made questionable choices, including willfully selecting classes for the interesting stories they promised, rather than for any practical application. When he wasn't frivolously playing with words, he earned credits in such meaningful courses as Trampoline, Juggling, and 17th Century Italian Longsword. These dubious decisions notwithstanding, he regrets nothing and now holds degrees in English and Education with certificates in Creative Writing and Folklore.

He currently teaches high school Language Arts, including reading and writing, mythology and heroes. He is a proud husband and father. When reading aloud, he always does the voices.

Jackaby is his first novel. It was born in the middle of the night and written on two different hemispheres. It has survived typhoons and hurricanes, and was fostered into publication through the patient care of many hands.

Find William: Website | Twitter

Disclaimer: *I received a copy of this book for free to review, this in no way influenced my review, all opinions are 100% honest and my own.

**Book info obtained through Goodreads. 
***Book Cover Obtained through Goodreads. 
****Author photo obtained through author website.

August 27, 2017

Ally by Anna Banks: An ARC Book Review

Title: Ally (Nemesis #2)
Author: Anna Banks
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Release Date: October 3rd 2017
Source: Miss Print ARC Adoption
Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

Princess Sepora of Serubel and King Tarik of Theoria have formed an uneasy truce between their kingdoms since the deadly plague began to rip through Theoria. Since their feelings for each other are entangled in politics and power, they must use their own trusted resources to find common ground.

But when traitors with powerful allies arise from unexpected places, Tarik and Sepora face challenges that will change both of their kingdoms forever. Will they learn whom to trust—including each other—in time to save their kingdoms, their relationship and even their lives?

I really enjoyed Ally. It was a very good sequel to Nemesis and what seems like a good closing to these 5 kingdoms. There was action, reconciliation, romance, betrayal, death, unity. Everything that makes a great conclusion to an action packed story. 

I'm really glad for the way this story turned and how it ended. I don't want to go in to too much detail because I want you to go get the book and read t for yourself and draw your own conclusions. I will say this, you won't be disappointed.

The only thing I would change is the cover to this book. It should be Tarik in his gold paint and headdress just like we had Sepora in silver on the first one.

Anna Banks grew up in a small town called Niceville (yes, really). She now lives in Crestview, Florida, with her husband and their daughter. She is the author of the novel Of Poseidon.

Find Anna: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Blog

Disclaimer: *I received a copy of this book for free from Miss Print ARC Adoption to review, this in no way influenced my review, all opinions are 100% honest and my own.

**Book info obtained through Goodreads. 
***Book Cover Obtained through Goodreads. 
****Author photo obtained through author website.

August 6, 2017

Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller: An ARC Book Review

Title: Mask of Shadows
Author: Linsey Miller
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Glbt
Release Date: August 29th 2017
Source: Miss Print ARC Adoption
Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

I Needed to Win. 
They Needed to Die.
Sallot Leon is a thief, and a good one at that. But gender fluid Sal wants nothing more than to escape the drudgery of life as a highway robber and get closer to the upper-class—and the nobles who destroyed their home.

When Sal steals a flyer for an audition to become a member of The Left Hand—the Queen’s personal assassins, named after the rings she wears—Sal jumps at the chance to infiltrate the court and get revenge.

But the audition is a fight to the death filled with clever circus acrobats, lethal apothecaries, and vicious ex-soldiers. A childhood as a common criminal hardly prepared Sal for the trials. And as Sal succeeds in the competition, and wins the heart of Elise, an intriguing scribe at court, they start to dream of a new life and a different future, but one that Sal can have only if they survive.

This book is a masterpiece that was cleverly written on a plot that we have seen in a few different ways.  You got a character who describes herself as " Thief and a killer, trained by childhood of fear and violence" who sets out in a competition to take a prized position.  I loved that we jumped into the story with little knowledge of how our character got to where she is.  Sometimes I feel the first book of a series gets bogged down with filling us in with backstory that it takes sooo long to get to the actual story. Since this is the first book we get more books to fill in the backstory as the main character continues on her path beyond achieving what she wants to in the competition. 

Some may hold issue with the love interest in this story as it is two females but I did not feel it was overly weird or that it distracted from the action filled story.  In fact, I'm not sure it could of played out well or at all if it been a male/female relationship.  

My favorite quote came right at the end of the story when the, now, crowned opal tells the queen just what she thinks of her. " I used to love you. I adored you. I would've died for you. I thought you were lady sent to save us, to pull us from the chaos magic and greed brought down upon us, but your just like us. Your not any different from them, maneuvering people to keep your power".  What a powerful thought and accurate description of how the political leaders actually think and work. Makes you wonder if the magic was ever truly banished?  Makes me intrigued for book two.

The book ends on rousing cliff hanger with our love interest being stolen away and the new opal taking on the task of her the previous opal.   "They'd taken my country and my life, and I would take their heads". Gives me tingles.

A wayward biology student from Arkansas, Linsey has previously worked as a crime lab intern, neuroscience lab assistant, and pharmacy technician. Her debut novel MASK OF SHADOWS is the first in a fantasy duology coming in September 2017 from Sourcebooks Fire. She can be found writing about science and magic anywhere there is coffee.

Disclaimer: *I received a copy of this book for free from Miss Print ARC Adoption to review, this in no way influenced my review, all opinions are 100% honest and my own.

**Book info obtained through Goodreads. 
***Book Cover Obtained through Goodreads. 
****Author photo obtained through author website.

August 5, 2017

Nemesis by Anna Banks: A Book Review

Title: Nemesis (Nemesis #1)
Author: Anna Banks
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance
Release Date: October 4th 2016
Edition: ARC
Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

Princess Sepora of Serubel is the last Forger in all the five kingdoms. The spectorium she creates provides energy for all, but now her father has found a way to weaponize it, and his intentions to incite war force her to flee his grasp. She escapes across enemy lines into the kingdom of Theoria, but her plans to hide are thwarted when she is captured and placed in the young king’s servitude.

Tarik has just taken over rulership of Theoria, and must now face a new plague sweeping through his kingdom and killing his citizens. The last thing he needs is a troublesome servant vying for his attention. But Mistress Sepora will not be ignored. When the two finally meet face-to-face, they form an unlikely bond that complicates life in ways neither of them could have imagined.

Sepora's gift may be able to save Tarik’s kingdom. But should she risk exposing herself and her growing feelings for her nemesis?

This is the first Anna Banks book that I have read. I have her other books sitting on my shelf begging me to read them. After my introduction to her writing, I'm ready to dive in to the rest of her books.

Nemesis starts off with Sepora leaving her home due to her father and him using her. We are actually taken right in to the action as we hear about the present and some back story all in one. I was immediately engulfed in this amazing world that the author had created. And not only were there one amazing kingdom that she wrote about, but five! All with different backgrounds and histories. The time that it must have taken to fully form these must have taken some time because he details were amazing.

I really enjoyed Tarek and Sepora's characters and thought they were perfect for each other from the start. Neither one had to grow on me. I especially enjoyed Sethos and his logics and his take on things. 

I can understand why Sepora wanted to hide her forging ability but at the same time I never understood why she didn't find a way to the Lyceum when no one was looking and forged a pile of spectorum and left it outside for the Healers to use for their cure. That way no one would know it was her and they would still have a cure. But I guess everything worked out for the best in the end. 

I can't wait to read what happens next.

Anna Banks grew up in a small town called Niceville (yes, really). She now lives in Crestview, Florida, with her husband and their daughter. She is the author of the novel Of Poseidon.

Find Anna: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Blog

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