Thursday, August 17, 2017

Review: As Old as Time by Liz Braswell


Title: As Old as Time
Author: Liz Braswell
Series: A Twisted Tale #3
Publisher: Disney Press
Publication Date: September 6, 2016
Source: Library


I am a sucker for retellings of popular fairy tales.  I realize that I probably tell you guys this every single time I read a retelling of any story, but just in case you are new to reading my blog I thought I would share that bit of information about myself again.

I was pretty excited to finally get my hands on As Old As Time, as it is a retelling of the Disney version of Beauty and the Beast.  I really wanted to see what Liz Braswell did with the story and how she transformed it.

So while if you have seen the Beauty and the Beast animated Disney movie, you will be some what aware of the basic plot of this book.  Belle (Beauty) ends up a prisoner of the Beasts castle which is under a spell that will become permanent if he can not learn to love someone else and earn their love in return by his 21st birthday.

Where this book differs though is that there is more back story for Belle's mother and father and the town that had originally surrounded the castle.  So we learn more about the history and how the Beast and his castle ended up under the curse (which in this case was put on them by Belle's mother - this is not a spoiler as it is something written clearly in the blurb of the book).

So what did I think of this book?  Well for the first half I found myself really enjoying the back story of Belle's mother and father and the town surrounding the castle.  Unfortunately, when we were actually with Belle (the story goes back and forth a little) there were so many instances of the book being word for word of the movie and I just didn't really enjoy that.  I realize that it probably helps some people be able to make the connection from the book to the original Disney movie version, but I wanted more differences.  I didn't want to read the movie.

It did start veering off at the second half of the book.  There were still some instances of the book sounding almost exactly as the movie, but by that point I was over it and had accepted that there were going to be points of this in existence.

This book also tends to go a little darker than the original version, and I really liked that.  I think Liz Braswell has a talent for dark writing.  There were definitely some creepy points where I was pulled in and really into it.  And I totally applaud her on those scenes.  They were most definitely NOT in the movie.

So, while there were some misses for me there were most definitely some hits too.  I do hope she keeps writing these!

My Rating
3 Stars


This review is based on a copy that I borrowed from my public library.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Review: Little Monsters by Kara Thomas


Title: Little Monsters
Author: Kara Thomas
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: July 25, 2017
Source: Publisher

I read Kara Thomas' other book The Darkest Corners and was completely blown away (check out my review for it HERE) so I knew I had to read Little Monsters.

But I was afraid.

I was afraid I was hyping it up too much in my mind and that I was going to end up being bitterly disappointed in what I found between the covers of the book.  I was afraid that there was no waqy that Kara Thomas could live up to my very high expectations that I know have of her thanks to The Darkest Corners.

Eventually I did manage to put my fears aside and read the book (how else would I be writing this review...I am the queen of the obvious right now I guess..) and OMG.

In Little Monsters we have our cast of characters with our main one being Kacey.  Kacey is a bit newer to her tiny town.  However, she has made friends with a couple of other girls - Bailey and Jade - and they have been more or less inseparable.  Then one day, for reasons Kacey isn't quite sure of, her friends have cut her out.  She is expecting them to force her to go to a party she doesn't really want to go to, but they never call or come to pick her up.

Did she do something at their failed sceance the night before to make them mad?  Was it because her little sister ended up tagging along?  She cannot help, but wonder what it is she did and they aren't telling her.  But Kasey doesn't get to ask them because Bailey never gets home from that party....instead she goes missing.

Then things unravel.  Things are learned about the truth of each of the girls involved.  And it really is just a mess.

An incredible well plotted out mess.  Kara Thomas is a master at twisting her plot this way and that.  You never quite know where she is going to take her story.  For awhile she will cause you to think A, and then something happens and you are thinking B....  And then all of a sudden you are on D....and back to A.  It is intense and wonderful and such a fantastic ride the whole way through!

Honestly, I am still kinda tripped out by a bit in the end.  And I really hope Kara revisits these characters at some point.  I think she could really have another story in there some where for us.  Maybe not with Kacey as the focal point, but I wouldn't mind it at all.

Filled with amazing plot twists that will keep you on your toes, Kara Thomas delivers us a fantastic second novel.  She has proven to me that she is not a one trick pony and I anxiously await her next book!

My Rating
5 Stars


This review is based on an eARC provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are mine and mine alone.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Blog Tour: The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter by Theodora Goss


Title: The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter
Author: Theodora Goss
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Saga Press
Publication Date: June 20, 2017
Source: Publisher


When I heard about The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter I must admit that my mind was totally blown.  It just sounded so good!

Why did it sound good?  Well you see, The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter ties together quite a few classics.   There is Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Island of Dr. Moreau, Frankenstein, Rappaccini's Daughter, and Sherlock Holmes as the main story tie ins.  However, as you read through the story you will find even more!  Theodora Goss is a genius!  Putting all these stories together?  Pure brilliance.

This story isn't about the main characters of those stories though.  Aside from Sherlock Holmes and Watson being in The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter, characters it revolves around are the daughters of the villains from the other mentioned stories.

In this story we start off with Mary.  Mary is the daughter of Dr. Jekyll.  She has just lost her mother and her father died when she was 7.  She has little to no money left and doesn't quite know what to do.  Then she remembers that years ago Mr. Hyde was wanted for a murder and never captured.  She sets off to try to find Mr. Hyde so that she can claim the reward money so that she won't have to worry so much.

And from there the story goes!  And it goes so well!  It is so fun and exciting!

I must say that I don't really feel like Sherlock Holmes and Watson were really themselves, but Theodora Gloss is not their creator.  She did give it an admirable shot though.

As far as for all the daughters?  I liked them all well enough.  I didn't like Diana all that much though. I personally felt like her character wasn't quite as well done as the rest of them.  She was too predictable in her behaviors and responses.  But then maybe that means she was really well done considering who her father is!

Also, this book is written kind of like we are reading it as it is being written.  Ever so occasionally dialogue between the characters pops up between bits of the story.  They are either squabbling, pointing out that something was missed/wrong, or stressing the point of something just told to us.  Sometimes I found this to be pretty interesting and a really neat way to get to know the characters a little better while other times I found it confusing or annoying.  It definitely was a different way to write it though.

All in all, I really enjoyed The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter and hope for more adventures!

My Rating
4.5 Stars

This review is based on an eARC provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All thoughts are mine and mine alone.

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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Blog Tour: Reign of Serpents by Eleanor Herman


Title: Reign of Serpents
Author: Eleanor Herman
Series: Blood of Gods and Royals #3
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: June 27, 2017
Source: Publisher



I don't know about you guys, but I am totally stoked for Reign of Serpents by Eleanor Herman!  I have read all of the books (except for the latest novella and Reign of Serpents) and have enjoyed each one of them.  In case you missed them you can find my review for Legacy of Kings HERE, Empire of Dust HERE, and for Voice of Gods HERE.

However, today I am not here to share with you my review of this book.  I am actually here because I had the pleasure of asking Eleanor Herman some questions and she answered!  Talk about a fan girl moment when I received this opportunity!

So without further ado I give you my Q&A with Eleanor Herman!


1) What inspired you to write the Blood of Gods and Royals series?

No one had written YA novels on Alexander the Great. And because so little is known of his teen years, that gave my imagination a lot of room!

2) What is your all-time favorite point of time in history?

The ancient Mediterranean world fascinates me. It was a sophisticated world, with gorgeous buildings, well-built roads, a great deal of shipping and trade, fine artwork and jewelry-making, entertainment, and literature. And people bathed frequently, unlike in later centuries where they thought bathing would kill them and must have stunk to high heaven. I am a great fan of bathing.

3) You have traveled a lot for research, which place has been your favorite so far?

I absolutely adore Italy. It’s a giant layer-cake of civilizations, one smack on top of the other. People live in houses eight hundred years old, and in the basement are ancient tombs and temples. But I also love Greece, Lebanon, and Jordan. When I go to places this old, I have the strange feeling that I am absorbing energy from all the people who have ever been there. I get an odd buzzing sensation that makes me dizzy. And happy. I can just touch an ancient wall, and thousands of human stories flow through me, connecting me to the story of all mankind.


4). There is a lot of magic in the Blood of Gods and Royals series, how/where/why did that come about? 

Magic was very real to all ancient societies and still is to many tribal ones thriving today. I have spent time in African villages learning about it, and believe me, things happen there that our Western minds have a hard time understanding. In order to write about my characters’ experiences with Snake Blood and Earth Blood, I drew on the connection I think we all have with other life forms and the earth itself. As Kat says when she becomes the whale in Reign of Serpents, We are one. I believe this is true, and that is the real magic.


5) Who is your favorite of your characters?

That is like asking a mother of many children which is her favorite child. While I love all my characters, I have a particular fondness for the bad girl, Cynane. I love her defiant pain at being female in a man’s world. I love her fierce strength. I especially enjoyed writing the scenes in Reign of Serpents where she has married the crazy king and trying to keep him happy while plotting to kill him.


6) Who is your favorite author?
Clearly, J.K. Rowling! I also love the ancient Roman murder mystery series of Marcus Didius Falco by Lindsay Davis. Action-packed, very funny at times, and you feel that you have been there.


7) Which book in the series has been the hardest for you to write? Why?

The first book in the series, Legacy of Kings, was hardest to write for two reasons. It was my first novel, and I learned that writing fiction is much more complex than writing non-fiction, which is simply stringing facts together in an engaging way. Also, I had to learn who my many characters were, how their personalities differed. It took some time for them to really talk to me, to take over their chapters. I had a much easier time in Empire of Dust and Reign of Serpents. Now I am writing the fourth and final in the series: Dawn of Heroes. The challenge here is to show how they have grown and changed over the course of the series. They started off as kids. Now, though it’s only a year later, they are wiser and more experienced. They are adults.


8) What are your plans for after Reign of Serpents?

I have all kinds of ideas! Historical fiction, naturally! And I just finished a non-fiction book called The Royal Art of Poison, which looks at poisonings at royal courts centuries ago. That was a load of fun to research and write. I will come out in May 2018.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Blog Tour: That Crazy Perfect Someday by Michael Mazza


Title: That Crazy Perfect Someday
Author: Michael Mazza
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Turtle Point Press
Publication Date: June 20, 2017
Source: Irish Banana Blog Tours/Publisher



I think that That Crazy Perfect Someday may be my second book that I have ever read that is about surfing.  I'm not a surfer, I have never even tried it, so I'm not too surprised about this.

Thanks to this book though, I wouldn't mind going out into the ocean.  It made it sound pretty good.  Too bad I am not into the outdoors and I am too much of a chicken to try.

But anyways...

That Crazy Perfect Someday is about Mafuri Long, a surfer girl who is some where between the ages of 20 and 30 as far as I could tell.  She holds fame in the world for riding a record breaking wave.  She is currently training for the upcoming Olympic Games.  Her father is a depressed and troubled veteran and he mother passed away some time before this book began from cancer.

In short, this book is more or less about Mafuri Longs life and the things that happen in the course of time that this book is talking about.  She is trying to help her father and keep him safe from himself while training hard for the Olympics.  She wants gold.  Like really wants it.  It would be a life defining thing for her.  Not much else matters.  She needs to show the world she wasn't just that wave.

So we travel through her life with her on her way to the Olympic Games.  And a lot of stuff happens.

So That Crazy Perfect Someday is technically set in the future, but not a very far off future.  The year for the book is 2024.  The world is essentially in a predicted state from where we are now.  Some advances in technology and medicine - nothing to crazy from what we currently have.  Drones in the air, cars that can drive themselves, etc.  And the global warming has hit which has messed with the weather patterns and what not making them totally unpredictable.  Is this why surfing is such a huge deal for Mafuri's world?  I don't know, but it does seem to be the end all sport of the Olympics (is it a huge sport in the Olympics now?)

And of course this book talks a lot about surfing.  There were definitely times I felt like I was out in the ocean along with Mafuri.  Feeling the water on my skin and the sun beating down on me.

Character development wise, I did feel like there were a few bumps.  There were times when I was really feeling Mafuri, and there were other times where I just was not.  I would occasionally lose a bit of that feeling where she could be real, but it would come back.  Or there were cases where other characters had vindictive attitudes and I didn't really feel their actions were quite on the mark for what was going on.  I also wanted to feel more connections between the characters than I got, but part of that may just have been Mafuri's character (which we do see grow thankfully).

Also, there is some language use in the book, and it did throw me.  Mafuri, the narrator, tended to not swear and use words such as "effing" and other softer terms for the harsher ones.  But when other characters would swear, the harsher terms were used.  It isn't a huge thing, but I found myself noticing it and to me it felt a bit weird.  At first I thought Mazza was trying to not use swear words, but then they were there...and it just a tiny hiccup in the flow for me.

I will say this though, probably by the time I was 25% into the book I didn't want to put it down.  I wanted to be there on that beach with Mafuri.  I wanted to be surfing with her.  I wanted to see what was going to happen next to her.  Would she kiss that guy?  What was she going to do about this new situation she found herself in?  What was the heck was that person thinking?  I wanted to know.  And when I found myself at the end, I felt like I had made the journey with Mafuri.  And I enjoyed it a lot.

I look forward to reading more of Michael Mazza's work.

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.  All thoughts and opinions are mine and mine alone.

My apologies if this review seems a bit rambly.  I wrote it much later in the night than I should have.  Yay for having a toddler.  Feel free to contact me on twitter or to use the comments section to discuss anything about this book further!


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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Book Blitz: The Strange Case of the Alchemists Daughter by Theodora Goss


Title: The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter
Author: Theodora Goss
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Saga Press
Publication Date: June 20, 2017
Source: Publisher


I just wanted to give a quick shout out to The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter by Theodora Goss.  I personally think the blurb sounds crazy interesting, and thought I would share it's existence with you.  

You can actually expect to see a review of this book up on the blog within the next few weeks!  I'm pretty excited to read it!

Here is a little about the book:

ABOUT THE STRANGE CASE OF THE ALCHEMIST'S DAUGHTER:
How do I explain how amazing this book is? TSCotAD features found families, monster girls, snarky meta, and Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson all wrapped up in an incredible Victorian Era bow. Brianna took this book to London with her and devoured it. Hopefully you’ll love it just as much as she does!

Based on some of literature’s horror and science fiction classics, this is the story of a remarkable group of women who come together to solve the mystery of a series of gruesome murders—and the bigger mystery of their own origins.

Mary Jekyll, alone and penniless following her parents’ death, is curious about the secrets of her father’s mysterious past. One clue in particular hints that Edward Hyde, her father’s former friend and a murderer, may be nearby, and there is a reward for information leading to his capture…a reward that would solve all of her immediate financial woes.

But her hunt leads her to Hyde’s daughter, Diana, a feral child left to be raised by nuns. With the assistance of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, Mary continues her search for the elusive Hyde, and soon befriends more women, all of whom have been created through terrifying experimentation: Beatrice Rappaccini, Catherin Moreau, and Justine Frankenstein.
When their investigations lead them to the discovery of a secret society of immoral and power-crazed scientists, the horrors of their past return. Now it is up to the monsters to finally triumph over the monstrous. 



Friday, June 16, 2017

Review: Roadfood by Jane and Michael Stern


Title: Roadfood
Author: Jane and Michael Stern
Series: Roadfood: The Coast-To-Coast Guide to the Best Barbecue Join
Publisher: Clarkson Potter 
Publication Date: March 7, 2017 (10th edition)
Source: Blogging for Books



Who doesn't love food?  I know I do.  A lot.  So I saw this book up on Blogging for Books and knew I needed to get it.  I really enjoy watching all of those food shows where the guys travel around and try food at various places local to wherever, so I figured a book that can tell you where some of the really good eats are would be cool to have.

This book starts out with the East Coast and works its way West.  Which probably isn't a problem for a lot of people, but I live way out on the West Coast and had to go find California way in the back of the book to see if it had anything near me (it does).  Each section has a map of the state and then each town that has a restaurant(s) listed is on the map.  Then from there, every restaurant in that town is listed.  Then each section actually has the restaurants listed with their phone numbers, address, if they serve breakfast/lunch/dinner, a price point guide, and a blurb about their atmosphere and food.  The restaurants are arranged alphabetically, not by city.

All in all, this is a pretty cool book.  There are a few restaurants that aren't too far away or in areas I may find myself in from time to time that I wouldn't mind trying out.  The sad part is that there are some states with very few things listed, or large portions of a state that don't have anything at all.  I don't know if it this is because there was nothing worth mentioning for those areas or something else.  This will definitely help when exploring the United States though!

My Rating
4 Stars

This review is based on a copy provided by Blogging for Books in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are mine and mine alone.