Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Voice of Gods by Eleanor Herman

Title: Voice of Gods
Author: Eleanor Herman
Series: Blood of Gods and Royals # .05
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: July 15, 2015
Source: Purchased

Voice of Gods by Eleanor Herman is a prequel novella to her Blood of Gods and Royals series - Legacy of Kings being the first official one.

Interestingly enough, I read novella's very rarely, but I really wanted to read Voice of Gods because I wanted to return to this particular world (I had read Legacy of Kings beforehand and you can find my review HERE).  And right at the start I instantly felt back at home in the world.  The writing sucked me right in and I had absolutely no problems envisioning the world that the words were creating in my mind.

Voice of Gods, being a prequel novella, takes place before the Legacy of Kings story line happens.  It is actually mostly the story of Helen and of Olympias - of how they came to be who they were as the reader will come to know them later in Legacy of Kings.

Now, I read Voice of Gods long after I read Legacy of Kings, so I was continually trying to remember how things in this story were relating to what I had read back then.  Who characters were, the relationships between them, etc.  It wasn't very easy to do sometimes, but then again, not all of these characters were present in Legacy of Kings.

Voice of Gods is told from a couple of different point of views, however, there were not nearly as many as I encountered when I read Legacy of Kings...which was nice especially since this story line was much shorter.  It would have been hard to get to know too many different story tellers in a novella, so I am thankful that Eleanor Herman kept it at a minimum in her novella.

The whole time I read Voice of Gods I had kept my eyes open for spoilers for Legacy of Kings, and I am happy to report that I don't think I came across any.  We, the readers, simply got to understand how certain older characters got to where they were for the time that Legacy of Kings goes through.  Eleanor Herman did a great job keeping her story under wraps while giving us an introduction to this world!

Also, you don't have to feel like you have to read the novella, but I do think it makes some things that happen in Legacy of Kings a bit more clear and I appreciated it.  I kind of wish I had read it before I had read Legacy of Kings, but it definitely is not necessary to do so.  Reading it later one while waiting for the next book, Empire of Dust, to release allowed me to visit a world that I had been missing.

My Rating
4 Stars

Thoughts and opinions contained within this review are mine and mine alone.  No compensation was received for this review.

Monday, June 27, 2016

The Island by S. Usher Evans

Title: The Island
Author: S. Usher Evans
Series: The Madion War Trilogy #1
Publisher: Sun's Golden Ray Publishing
Publication Date: April 26, 2016
Source: Author

Woah!  I started this book one day and then the next day it was finished.  I didn't want to put it down.  It made me sad when I had to take a break from it to eat or sleep or talk to someone.

It was horrible!  I wanted/needed to continue.  I was so involved with the characters/story and the need to know what was going to happen.

It also didn't hurt that the story just flowed and was easy to read.  It was quite fantastic!

The Island is about two individuals, orphan Theo from Rave and Prince Galian from Kylae.  Two opposing worlds at war with each other.  One day both Galian and Theo are up in the air shooting at one another...and then the next thing they know they are stranded on an island in the middle of no where.

Oh geez.  If that doesn't tell you that there is some built in angst between the characters, I don't know what else would.  But you can definitely feel it!

Something The Island does when telling us the story is that it rotates between the two characters points of views.  I won't lie, I was worried in the beginning that I wasn't going to be able to tell the difference between Galian and Theo personality wise.  I thought that they were going to end up sounding the same in my head as I read through the story.  Thankfully, my fear was taken care of rather early on.  Once I got used to the way the story was written, I was easily able to tell the difference between the two characters.  It is something that could have gone very wrong, but thankfully it went very right.

Over all, I enjoyed the world building.  However, I do wish it was painted a little bit more for me.  I am kind of unclear as to what kind of technology the world had.  If it was more futuristic or if it was a bit in the past (when compared to our world and our time).

All in all, I loved this book.  I wanted a little bit more from it, but not too much.  I look forward to reading the rest of the series!

My Rating
4.5 Stars

This review is based on a copy provided by the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Charmed by Jen Calonita

Title: Charmed
Author: Jen Calonita
Series: Fairy Tale Reform School #2
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Publication Date: March 1, 2016
Source: Netgalley

It was so wonderful returning to Fairy Tale Reform School!  If you haven't read it yet, you really should check out the first book in the series Flunked.  You can find my review for it HERE.

That being said, since this is the second book in the series, there may be some minor spoilers for the first book within.  So read on at your own risk.

Charmed takes off pretty much where Flunked ended.  We are still at the Fairy Tale Reform School and we still have most of the same characters.  Blackbeard does join the cast as one of the teachers, and one of the princesses does make quite a few more appearances than before, but our core cast of students is still pretty much the same.

However, in Charmed, Gilly is a bit more stuck on herself than she was in the last book.  She has let being a "hero" go to her head and sometimes forgets that her friends helped her with what went down in Flunked.  Unfortunately this causes a few issues for her.  However, it does let us see her grow as a character which is something I appreciate as a reader and a fan of this series.

All in all, Charmed continued on with the fun wonderful world that Jen Calonita created in the first installment.  It is fun and full of adventure.  And hopefully Jen will be continuing on with this series in a similar matter.  I have grown attached to the fun and quirky cast of characters and I want to see them grow more and to see where their adventures take them.

My Rating
4 Stars

This review is based on an eARC provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger

Title: Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge
Author: Paul Krueger
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Quirk Books
Publication Date: June 7, 2016
Source: Publisher

So, I am totally not a drinker in any way shape or form, but something about Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge still called out to me and told me that I had to read it.

And I am glad that I listened to whatever that something was!

Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge has such an interesting and original premise.  It is about bartenders, but bartenders do not just sling drinks and break up bar fights.  They keep the people safe from demons that are out and about trying to feed on the drunks wandering the streets late at night!

Our main character is about Bailey.  She is a fresh out of college business degree graduate that cannot find a job.  She has moved home and has started working at the bar that her childhood friend, Zane, is a bartender at.  She starts out just running around getting the bartenders clean glasses and making sure that their lemon slices are stocked up...but she isn't a dummy and starts to notice that things aren't as they seem.  Oh, and she runs into one of these demons on her way home from work one night!

I loved the premise of this book.  I was pulled in and found it hard to put this book down.  I just had to keep going and going was over.  But I didn't want to put it down even when it ended!  I wasn't ready for this fantastic world that Paul Krueger created to be over.

I found it very easy to relate to Bailey.  I have been there.  I have been the college graduate that couldn't find a job and had to take the first thing that I could come by...which for me happened to be bookselling (and I stayed with it for 6 years, but this isn't about me).

Also, I loved loved loved the character Bucket.  He was by far my favorite of the whole cast.  I found him quirky with a funky sense of humor.  The jokes he cracked always brought a smile to my face and an occasional audible laugh.  Thankfully no one was ever really around me while I was reading, they probably would have thought me crazy.

Oh, and if that wasn't enough things that I loved about Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge, I also loved the formatting.  Placed between the chapters that contained the story, we got to read pages from the Devil's Water Dictionary.  This allowed us to read part of the book that the characters got their magical elixirs.  It also gave us the recipes to some of the drinks mentioned within the story (so yay! we can make them ourselves) and background information about the ingredients.  I felt that this gave a whole other level to the story and really helped me feel a part of it and that the characters were people I could possibly run into them on the street.

So to say it again, just in case it wasn't obvious already, I loved Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge.  It is a world that I really hope Paul Krueger continues!

My Rating
5 Stars

This review is based on a copy provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Maggie Dove by Susan Breen

Title: Maggie Dove
Author: Susan Breen
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Alibi
Publication Date: June 14, 2016
Source: Random House Monthly Mystery Chatterbox

Well.  I must say that Maggie Dove was not a book I would normally pick up and read on my own.  It is pretty far out of what I would normally read.

Maggie Dove is a cozy mystery about...Maggie Dove.  She lives in a small town, is a widow, and her daughter died young as a result of a car accident.  Maggie Dove is one of those ladies that is a strong member of the community.  She knows and talks to everyone.  She once upon a time was a murder mystery author (she gave it up when her daughter died).  She had few grievances with other members of her community, save her neighbor.

Her neighbor wanted her to move a much beloved tree in her yard because it was in his view from his house of the Hudson river - and he wanted to paint the river without the tree in his way.  And that is where the story starts.  Maggie's neighbor took it upon himself to try to poison her tree because she wouldn't move/remove the tree.  And then, shortly after, he was found dead underneath her tree seemingly from a heart attack.

Now, as I have already stated, this is a book that I normally reach out and grab.  While I like mysteries, I do tend towards those meant for younger audiences - YA, NA, MG...or I like them to have some sort of paranormal aspect to them.  Maggie Dove was none of the above.  The main character was 62 years old, much older than characters that I normally read and I found it hard to connect to her.  She and I had little in common, so I wasn't able to relate to her very well.

Also, the story line seemed rather one dimensional.  We followed along with Maggie as she was trying to figure out what happened to her neighbor.  I felt like we were categorically looking at each individual character in the story.  One at a time.  And I would have liked a few more twists and turns in the story....and that the ones that were in it...I wish they had been more twisty and turnier.  The whole story just felt like it was on the same pace the whole way through.

While I found it pleasant enough to read, I also don't think I would have finished it except for the part where I wanted to know the "who done it and why."  I had committed enough time to it, that I decided that I needed to know and I didn't want to cheat to find the answer.  And while I wasn't surprised, I still was at the same time.  So I will give Maggie Dove that.

My Rating
3 Stars

This review was based on an eARC copy provided by the publisher through House Party/Chatterbox in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Blog Tour: The Cresswell Plot by Eliza Wass

Title: The Cresswell Plot
Author: Eliza Wass
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication Date: June 7, 2016
Source: Irish Banana Blog Tours

Okay...let me start out by saying that I almosted DNF'd this book...


Because I was scared it was going to go places that I just morally didn't want to read about.  Because I was scared it was going to take me places mentally that I just did not have the power to go.

Because I was scared of it.

But I persevered.  And I pushed through.  And OMG!

I am so happy that I didn't allow myself to DNF.  I would have missed out on such a fantastic, beautiful read.

So saying all that, I bet you may be wondering what The Cresswell Plot is about huh?  Well, it is mostly about Castley Cresswell as it is told from her point of view.  She is just one of a whole group of siblings. 

But the Cresswell's aren't your normal family.  They make their own clothes, live out in the woods in a huge run down house.  They don't go to the doctors when they are sick.  They only go to school because their parents were forced by the authorities to put them there.

They also have their own religion.  One that their father is in charge of.  He has written a book that they all study and pray over.  Father is the one to fear.  He is the one who delivers the punishments.  Mother is just there, in the background not to be bothered.

Their religion is a huge focal point of the whole story.  The children have been raised believing that they are the only ones who are going to be allowed into heaven.  And that the person they are supposed to marry is one of their siblings.  In fact, father has already decided which child is to marry which...

The Cresswell siblings didn't know any of this was a little off until they were sent to school...

This description is poor and only touches the surface of The Cresswell Plot.  The story is so much more with so much more involved.  Once I was finally able to get over my fears about the story I was able to enjoy it so much!  And I am so glad that I finished it and didn't let myself get in the way!

This book could have been so much longer though.  There was so much I would have loved to learn more about, but I guess we are going to be left hanging :(

Also, this is a story I wouldn't mind reading from the point of views of the other children, not just of Castley.  The Cresswell Plot shows you one side, but each one of these characters has their own story behind them and I just wish I could know it.

This is also a book that is going to cause you to have emotions.  I've already told you about how I experienced fear...but I also experienced anger, disgust, and more.

This is a book that needs to be read. 

My Rating
4 Stars

This review is based on a copy provided by the publisher through Irish Banana Blog Tours in exchange for a fair and honest review.


Blog Tour

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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Title: Illuminae
Author: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Series: The Illuminae Files #1
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 20, 2015
Source: First in Line

Illuminae is a book I put off reading for a long time.  I had access to it before it was even released, yet I couldn't bring myself to read it.

Was there a reason why?

It could have been because everyone was in love with it and I was afraid that the hype about it was going to ruin it for me..or it could have been because I tend to put off books I really want to read.  If I read them, then they are over....and what if I hate them?

Or it could have been a bit of both.  Or it could have been because I just never picked it up.

Eventually I did though.  I actually read it as a part of #ARCApril.  And now, here is June, and I am finally writing something up about it.

Procrastination?  Maybe.  Waiting for the right words to describe this book to come to me?  Maybe that too.

But if I keep waiting for those perfect words to come to me, then I will never ever write anything up about this book.  Those words are never going to come.  This book...there really are no words for this book.

Illuminae is actually set in space in the far out future.  A small, illegal mining company is attacked by another mining company.  Their home is destroyed.  Thankfully there was a fleet nearby to help save some of those who lived in the colony or else there would have been no survivors.

Of course, even though the ships got away, the attackers continued on in pursuit.  They didn't want to have any one left behind.

There were only 3 ships with survivors...and things started to happen...and no one was talking.

I really cannot go into much more of a description of the story than that.  I do not want to accidentally give away anything.  There are so many aspects to Illuminae, it is mind blowing to say the least.

Illuminae has a little bit of everything to it.  There is romance.  There is war.  There is espionage.  There is There is There is.  It is so hard to explain.  It will definitely keep you on your toes the whole way through though.  You will never find yourself bored or wanting to put it down.

And then there is the formatting of this book, which only adds to the brilliance that is Illuminae.  Illuminae is far from being formatted like a normal book.  It is meant to be a collection of files on an incident.  There are conversation logs, emails, files, and more to it.  In my opinion, this book should not be read as an ebook.  I think reading it digitally will take away from some of the magic that the formatting lends to the story as a whole.  So do yourself a favor and order it or head down to the store and get it.  You might not be able to start it as quickly as if you were to download it onto whatever device you have, but it will be well worth it in the end.

So was there anything that I didn't like in Illuminae?  Yes.  That it ended.  And that the second book Gemina isn't released yet....  But other than that?  No.  I loved it.  I wish I could read it again for the very first time and experience all brand new over again.

My Rating
5 Stars

This review is based on an ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Blog Tour: There Once Were Stars by Melanie McFarlane

Title: There One Were Stars
Author: Melanie McFarlane
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Month9Books
Publication Date: April 26, 2016
Source: Irish Banana Blog Tours

Dystopian novels.  They are a genre, specifically from the teen section, that I tend to devour.  Ever since I read Hunger Games way back before it exploded in popularity, I have been an addict.  I cannot get enough of these stories.  I just love seeing the various societies that authors have come up with that are supposed to be so ideal, but are really just a disastrous mess.

And there are so many ways!

So naturally I needed to give There Once Were Stars by Melanie McFarlane a read.  A society set in our world, but in the future.  People live in domes because once upon a time there was a disease so horrible, that the non infected/immune people were brought into the domes while the rest of the world was nuked.  Nuking the world meant that the outside was totally uninhabitable, so they had to wait and wait and wait until the earth was ready to be fully inhabited again.  The radiation left behind was deadly.

There was more than one of these domes created, however, our story only involves one of them.  There appears to be no communication between the domes, or if there had been, it went by the wayside as the years passed.  So no one knows anything about any of the other domes.  Each dome has its own government set up and its own goals.

Ooooh government....dystopian....dun dun dun.

Nat is our main character.  She is just a girl trying to decide what she wants to do for the rest of her life, as she is at the point that she is supposed to choose.  Her parents were field scientists that were killed while out on expedition outside of the dome when she was very young, so she has been raised with her parents.

Well never much for following all of the rules, Nat likes to spend time out in the dome forest where she has found a small clearing.  She finds solace there.  The clearing also happens to be at the very edge of the dome and one day while she is out there...she sees people!

But no one is supposed to be able to live outside the dome!

The outsider gets brought in.  Nat's world gets turned upside down.

From there the rest of the story unravels.

I will only tell you this.  It does not have any dinosaurs in it.  I had a really strange desire that this book have dinosaurs in it for some reason.  Like... I really really wanted there to be dinosaurs :(

Anyways, as far as dystopians go, I have read quite a few and could kind of feel where this one was going.  It wasn't unoriginal or anything, but it wasn't really original either.  It was a fast read though.  It pulled you in and made you want to keep going, and that is always important.

When it came to the writing, there were a few times that I felt that it fell a little short.  It wasn't bad, but it wasn't the best either.  It, however, does show a lot of promise.  I definitely wasn't put off by it.  I do think Melanie McFarlane may have a skill with horror writing.  I would LOVE to read anything she crafts in that genre.  There are some bits in the book where her writing thrived and it was usually in a darker, scarier moment.

I think Melanie McFarlane can only improve and I look forward to reading more of her work in the future.  She crafted quite an interesting story in a subgenre that has so many books out there that it is hard to come out with an original.  And if she ever writes anything horror (teen or not) you can bet I will be picking that book up to read super fast.

My Rating
3.5 Stars

This review is based on an ARC provided by the publisher through Irish Banana Blog Tours in exchange for a fair and honest review.


Blog Tour Schedule

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Week 2:

Monday, June 6, 2016

Blog Tour: Julia Vanishes by Catherine Egan and Giveaway!

Title: Julia Vanishes
Author: Catherine Egan
Series: Witch's Child #1
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: June 7, 2016
Source: Publisher

Guys! Guys! Guys! This book! OMG!

Julia Vanishes is about...well...Julia.  She is a teenage girl who is a criminal.  She just one criminal of a larger network of criminals.  She finds the money is good and is much better than what she could earn doing an "honest" days work, so she has no plans on changing her direction in life.

This story takes place while she is working as a spy in a well to do household.  She is undercover as a housemaid and is to report any and all things that happen in the house.  And things definitely happen in the house.  Weird things.

She has no orders beyond that, so she doesn't know what shes looking for specifically, she's going at it blind until they tell her that the job is done.

Oh and Julia has this cool thing that she can do.  She can vanish.  She is still there, but people (most any ways) cannot tell that she is there.

Let us first talk about the world building!  This world that Catherine Egan has crafted is quite brilliant!  There is magic in this world, however, it is outlawed.  So anyone who can do it is hunted and killed.  It seems to take place in history.  It also appears to be Earth as we know it, but it isn't.  It is beautifully written and very easy to imagine in your minds eye while you are reading.  There were so many time that I found myself wanting to try to draw or paint a scene!!!  If only I had skills worthy enough to even try...

I will say this though, the beginning is slowish.  It takes awhile for this world to get built up.  Then the story really takes off and WOAH!

Now...the characters!  I LOVED quite a few of them.  However, some of them, were pretty rough to read (especially in the beginning).  There are only so many times you want to hear how a specific characters face always looked before you want to yell at the book and say "I GET IT ALREADY STOP TELLING ME!"  And a few other characters felt a little under developed and almost awkward at some points (specifically the character Wyn)

The paranormal elements of this story were very strong and well thought out...and there were quite a few of them.  The magic and witches was very interesting.  It was like back when we would burn witches at the stake, however, these witches don't burn...they can only be drowned.  So it was an interesting twist on something that actually happened in our own history in this story.

Guys! This book was a book that I was very iffy about in the beginning.  I thought it was a bit rough and slow, but I kept going.  Then slowly it all started to make sense.  It also felt like Catherine Egan found her flow with the story.  By the time I hit the half way point I was totally hooked.  Then, by the end, I was visibly cringing and making other facial expressions to go along with what was going on in the story.  I WAS THAT INTO IT!

I loved Julia Vanishes.  I cannot wait until the next book in the series comes out.  I just hate that I am going to have to wait FOREVER for it to be out.  Maybe I will get lucky and Catherine Egan will get it out faster than expected.  I can only hope.

My Rating
5 Stars

This review is based on an ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.


Giveaway is open to US residents only. 13 years or older.  Reading is Better With Cupcakes is not responsible for any lost or stolen items.

Blog Tour Schedule:
May 17thSciFiChick
May 18th: Bookhounds YA
May 19th – A Midsummer Night's Read
May 20thJessabella Reads
May 24thBook Swoon
May 27thGreat Imaginations
May 31stThe Young Folks
June 1stThe Fandom
June 3rdKatie's Book Blog
June 7thWinterhaven Books
June 10thButter My Books
June 15thReading Teen
June 17thFiction Fare
June 18thFangirlish

Friday, June 3, 2016

My Best Friend's Exorcism by Grady Hendrix

Title: My Best Friend's Exorcism
Author: Grady Hendrix
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Quirk Books
Publication Date: May 17, 2016
Source: Netgalley

I am always trying to find a good horror book.  I don't know why...I can never really seem to find one...but I figured I would give My Best Friend's Exorcism a try.

Well now.

Once again, I was disappointed.  Maybe I should stop reading horror.  I am just almost never satisfied.  It is starting to get very discouraging.

Hold on.  I am getting way ahead of myself now.  More on this in a little bit.

The main characters in My Best Friend's Exorcism are Abby and Gretchen, though the story is pretty much told from Abby's perspective.  I don't want to go into too much detail on what this book is about, but essentially Gretchen starts acting very strange and not like herself at all and the only one who seems to notice is Abby.

Okay.  I don't know if I can get much more vague than that huh?  Oh well.

Anyways, this story is not really a horror even though it says it is.  I would say it is much more a story about friendship than anything.

And I think that is why this book fell a little short for me.  I was expecting a horror story, but really what I got was a lot of talk about pimples and other teenage girl stuff.

There was one scene though that really got to me though.  Grady Hendrix could write one really stellar horror story if he really wanted frighten the pants off of his readers.

Interestingly enough, while I was reading this...I felt as though my face was super greasy.  Side effect of good writing and a lot of talk about pimples.

Also, this book is totally set in the 80s.  If you are not an 80s fan you may want to skip this one.  There happens to be so many references you will not be happy.  But...if you love the 80s you are going to be very happy!  A lot of the references are song ones, but there are other things as well.

Oh and fun side note for the 80s music references....the publisher Quirk Books totally has a play list that has all of the songs listed and a few others on Spotify.  You really should check it out.  I listen to that play list ALL THE TIME.

However, despite being disappointed in the horror aspect of My Best Friend's Exorcism, I will be reading more of Grady Hendrix's books.  I found him to be an excellent writer with quite an imagination and I look forward to reading more of his work in the future.

My Rating
3 Stars

This review is based on an eARC provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.