Black Bird of the Gallows by Meg Kassel | Excerpt Reveal

I’m seriously questioning the wisdom of coming here. Who is this boy? Who are these people? I may not want these answers. Whatever illusion I had been weaving about this being a normal family can’t be true. This is a family, yes, but one putting on an elaborate show to appear to be something they are not. “Everyday life can’t be so bad,” I say lightly, eager to change the subject before I start luring myself down a hole. “You have a beautiful home, a nice family. You’re popular at school. Kiera Shaw certainly likes you.”

He turns his gaze to me, slowly. “Kiera Shaw? You think I like her?”

“I don’t know what you like.” I don’t blink. I don’t look away. “I know only what I’ve seen.”

Reece leans close, gently entering my personal space. Close enough to put me on edge, but not close enough to intimidate. His voice is silk on gravel. His narrowed eyes glitter down at me. “And what, exactly, have you seen, Angie?”

Shivers race up my skin. I want to defuse this so badly, but I feel like this is a challenge I can’t lose. “I’ve seen and heard things that don’t make sense. Things I can’t understand.” I shift my gaze to my crow sitting on a branch above my head. It watches me with an intensity that would scare me if I wasn’t accustomed to it. “Tell me about the crows.”

He shakes his head. “Sorry. Either you know about them, or you don’t.”

My jaw tightens, even as I step toward him. I can feel his body heat. His clean, guy scent fills my senses with a unique magnetism that draws me close. Closer still. “I will find out.”

His gaze sweeps my face, lingering on my lips. “I hope not.” His breath warms my temple, sending a shiver under my skin. “There are worse things out there than a few watchful birds.”

“Like what?” I’m breathless, damn him. My words are barely audible.

His lashes fan low over his eyes. The narrow space between us crackles with tension. “Oh Angie, you don’t want to know.”

Look for Black Bird of the Gallows by Meg Kassel 9/5!

Book Blogger Shout-Out | Sam @ Spines in a Line

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So if you have been around on my blog you will know of my new feature: Book Blogger Shout-Out! The purpose of this is to showcase some awesome book bloggers! This month I reached out and asked Sam @ Spines in a Line  if she would be so kind to participate and be featured for my Book Blogger Shout-out! Her blog is awesome and she has a ton of different features. She has anything from reviews to some great author interviews. So make sure you go over to Sam’s blog and say hi!

Hello everyone and thank you to Ashley for having me on her blog! I’m Sam and I’ve been book blogging for a little over a year now over at Spines in a Line. I’ve always loved reading and since I began tracking my books on Goodreads (almost obsessively), it was only a matter of time before I started my own blog. I’m heading to grad school in the fall for a Master’s in library science and I’m really excited about finding all new ways to engage with books! Thanks for reading!

My Fave Female Characters of 2017

I signed up for a reading challenge this year where you pledge to read books by female authors, with different levels like Super Girl and Wonder Woman based on the number of books you read. I wasn’t sure how well I’d do but so far more than 50% of my read shelf has been written by women (and I’ve hit that Wonder Woman goal)!

So in honour of this challenge, and surpassing my expectations, I’m sharing some of my favourite female characters from my reads this year, from books written by women of course!

1) Puck from Puck by Kim Askew and Amy Helmes

The title character, Puck, is very like her play counterpart – spunky and troublesome and just generally creating chaos in her wake. In this incarnation though, she’s a teenager so she brings a lot of that teenage sass and is just a delight in this story (that’s only slightly sarcastic :P)!

 

2) Anne from Persuasion by Jane Austen

I was in a Jane Austen book club this year so I read a lot of Austen’s book for the first time and I’ve gotta say, Anne has been my favourite heroine thus far. Though she seems quiet and timid, she really shines as a strong, independent woman. Despite the persuasiveness of her family and friends, Anne knows her own mind and I like that she gets the chance to make her own way.

 

3) Melody from Mystery at Maplemead Castle by Kitty French

This is probably my favourite series right now and a lot of that is down to this MC! She’s hilarious and super awkward (which probably makes her more funny)! She’s also a huge clutz and that’s just super relatable so it’s always fun following her story.

 

4) Cara from Or Best Offer by Beck Medina

Another awkward character, it’s hard not to love Cara! She’s got grand ideas of love and a stubbornness about her that’s actually really endearing, as she’s determined to stick with it no matter how hard the troubles may be.

 

I’m looking forward to adding more to this list before the year is out! Who are some of your fave female characters from this year?

 

Blog: https://spinesinaline.wordpress.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/spinesinaline

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/spinesinaline/

Goodreads: Sam

I would love to hear thoughts on this feature or if you are interested in being featured. If you have any questions or comments for Sam  make sure to leave them here or head over to her blog! Look out for the next book blogger!

Top 5 Wednesday | Books Set In Non Western World

TOP 5 WEDNESDAY

Top 5 Wednesday was created by Lainey from gingerreadslainey (YouTube, Goodreads) and if you would like to join, here is the link for the Goodreads group with all the information.

This week’s topic is Books Set In Non Western World 

♦ Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (Afghanistan)

♦ Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys (Lithuania/Siberia)

♦ The Martian by Andy Weir (Mars)

♦ Cinder by Marissa Meyer (New Beijing)

 

What are some of your favorite YA books set in the non western world? 

Open Road Summer by Emery Lord | Book Review

OPEN ROAD SUMMER BY EMERY LORD 

Genre: YA Contemporary

“You are the only person who can build emotional barriers, but you’re also the only person who can topple them. Other people can’t knock down the walls you’ve built, no matter how much they love you. You have to tear them down yourself because there’s something worth seeing on the other side.”
Emery Lord, Open Road Summer

Synopsis:
After breaking up with her bad-news boyfriend, Reagan O’Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind. . . and her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is nursing a broken heart of her own.

Fortunately, Lilah’s 24-city tour is about to kick off, offering a perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer of break-up ballads and healing hearts. But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama-free existence.

This summer, Reagan and Lilah will navigate the ups and downs of fame and friendship as they come to see that giving your heart to the right person is always a risk worth taking.

A fresh new voice in contemporary romance, Emery Lord’s gorgeous writing hits all the right notes.

Goodreads | Amazon 

I am never drawn to contemporary books, but it is a thing to do in the summer and I am happy I picked this one up. It is based on two friends during the summer time and gave me exactly what I needed. This is a fun summer road trip following Dee’s music tour as Dee and Reagan work though situations in their lives while enjoying the time together.

I could not put this book down, it was a fast read and so much fun. I loved the friendship between the two girls and how much they were there for each other. They each had such different personalities and different ghost they were dealing with in their past. I really found a connection to Reagan and some of the things she was going through. She had developed so much throughout the story and it was really nice to see. Of course there is a love interest and at times it took away a little from the two girls,  but it added a deeper layer to the book as well.

The music aspect was so intriguing and nice to read about. I sometimes think that music isn’t used enough in books. Or is a focus in many books. I like that it showed some real realities that accompany the entertainment world and made Dee an actual human with flaws and a past.

Overall I thought this was a great and fun read. It is perfect for the summer time and included so many fun summertime things. The relationships were really well done and it showed all sides of those relationships, the good, bad and the ugly. I also really appreciated that there was a guardian figure present because in so many YA novels these kids run around all on their own. The characters were complex and the storyline was sometimes a little deeper than just a fluffy contemporary, but it was such a fast gripping read.

You might also like:

Kissing in America by Margo Rabb

Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

Fight Like A Girl Tag | YA Edition

No one tagged me, but I saw this and thought it would be fun to do! I am also all about strong females! If you do this leave me a link to your post in the comments.

THE RULES

  • Thank the person who tagged you.
  • Mention the creator Krysti at YA and Wine
  • Match at least one YA girl with each of the themes below.
  • Tag as many people as you like!
WARRIOR GIRLS

Alanna from Song of the Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce. She pretends to be her brother and goes off to get trained as a page. She eventually makes it to a knight!

GIRLS WHO FIGHT WITH THEIR MIND

Denna from Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst. She is brilliant and is able to use her brain to her advantage.

GIRLS WHO FIGHT WITH THEIR HEART

Elisa from The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson. I think she is a very atypical heroine, but has so much compassion and heart.

GIRLS WHO ARE TRAINED FIGHTERS

Rose Hathaway from the Vampire Academy Series by Richelle Mead. Rose will always be one of my favorite female heroines and she has some awesome fighting moves.

STRONG GIRLS OF COLOR

Rue from the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. She gave her life for Katniss and became a symbol.

GIRLS WHO FIGHT TO SURVIVE

Rose from Garden of Thorns by Amber Mitchell. Rose does everything she could in order to survive because others gave their life so she could.

GIRLS WHO ARE WEAPONS MASTERS

Katniss from the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I mean the way she uses that bow would make me run.

GIRLS WHO DON’T CONFORM TO GENDER ROLES

This one is a little hard. I do not think I have read enough books to have an answer for this.

GIRLS WITH KICK-BUTT MAGICAL POWERS

Vin from Misborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson. The whole magic system in this trilogy is so awesome and Vin does some great things with her powers.

STRONG GIRLS IN CONTEMPORARY NOVELS

Reagan from Open Road Summer by Emery Lord. I love her! She stands up for herself and takes care of herself even though she has been through some stuff.

SERIOUSLY FIERCE GIRLS

Kate Harker from This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab. Kate is such a kick ass female. She is also super sassy which I love.

Who are some of your favorite strong females?

Top 5 Wednesday | Books Without Romance

TOP 5 WEDNESDAY

Top 5 Wednesday was created by Lainey from gingerreadslainey (YouTube, Goodreads) and if you would like to join, here is the link for the Goodreads group with all the information.

This week’s topic is Books Without Romance 

I am always in search of good YA without a main focus being the romance. It is a really hard thing to find, but there are quite a few good ones that have little to no romance.

♣ This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab 
♣ Odd & True by Cat Winters

♣ The Cruelty by Scott Bergstrom

♣ Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys 

♣ Because You’ll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas 

 

What are some of your favorite YA books with little to no romance ? 

Garden of Thorns by Amber Mitchell | Author Interview

GARDEN OF THORNS BY AMBER MITCHELL 

Synopsis:

After seven grueling years of captivity in the Garden—a burlesque troupe of slave girls—sixteen-year-old Rose finds an opportunity to escape during a performance for the emperor. But the hostage she randomly chose from the crowd to aid her isn’t one of the emperor’s men—not anymore. He’s the former heir to the throne, who is now leading a rebellion against it.

Rayce is a wanted man and dangerously charismatic, the worst person for Rose to get involved with, no matter what his smile promises. But he assumes Rose’s attempt to take him hostage is part of a plot to crush the rebellion, so he takes her as his hostage. Now Rose must prove where her loyalties lie, and she offers Rayce a deal—if he helps her rescue the other girls, she’ll tell him all the Garden’s secrets.

Except the one secret she’s kept for seven years that she’ll take to her grave if she must.

INTERVIEW WITH AMBER 

– Top 5 Things readers need to know about the book.

  1. Rose is a flawed protagonist. She doesn’t necessarily have fighting skills but she is smart.
  2. The land of Delmar is a brutal world and the action in the story illustrates that.
  3. Trust isn’t easily earned but it is easily broken.
  4. Rayce is a genuine good guy and they can most definitely be sexy too!
  5. Even in the most dire situations, you can find true love.

 

– Who/What was your inspiration for becoming a writer? How long have you been writing?

I’m not sure there is really a “who”. I’ve enjoyed writing stories ever since I was young. My first “real” story was a play I wrote for my third grade class. It was about 20-pages long which at the time seemed like a whole novel. I can definitely say that my high school teacher (I had him for 11th and 12th grade) helped me decide that I could get published one day if I put in enough work and he spent so many hours reviewing the first chapter of my first novel which I rewrote maybe ten times. He was definitely instrumental in my growth to start taking my writing seriously.

– Which of your characters would you say you are most like?

I fall somewhere between Rose and Marin. I like to joke around a lot like Marin and though I don’t always show it, I’m actually an optimist. I wish for the best but the realist in me braces for the worst. Unfortunately, I’m plagued with Rose’s anxiety so I relate to her a lot when I write her. Sometimes I let fear hold me captive so it was really therapeutic to write a character who must find a way past her fears.

– If your book was to be turned into a movie who would you cast as your leads?

This one is tough. I kind of just want to cast Chris Pratt as every part so I get to see more Chris Pratt but I don’t think he’d fit a single character!

For Rayce, I have a hard time seeing anyone else besides Godfrey Gao. He’s the perfect choice!

Rose has always been harder. I think it’s because I have a very specific picture in my head and no one quite fits it. Maybe someone like Chloe Grace Moretz? I’m not exactly happy with that choice but I’ve been thinking about this question forever and am never happy with it!

– Did you have to research anything for your book?

I did a lot of research into the ancient dynasties of China since Delmar is very loosely based off of them. Particularly the Song dynasty. I wanted to know about the crops they harvested, what they ate, what their daily lives looked like. For as much research as I did, only a tiny portion ended up making it into the book but it was important for me to understand the Delmar Empire and how it sustained itself.

– In 5 words how would you describe Garden of Thorns?

Exciting. Brutal. Romantic. Epic fantasy.

– What is your favorite book?

This question isn’t fair! I love so many books. A few of my favorite series are Harry Potter by JK Rowling (because, of course!), Poison Study series by Maria V Snyder and the Abhorsen trilogy by Nix Garth.

– What inspired the idea of the Garden?

It was actually a mixture of ideas. Whenever I would watch a movie and there would be a ballroom scene with girls in ball gowns, I would always think they looked like flowers when they twirled. That image stuck with me and I thought it would be really interesting to make a performance group of “dancing flowers”. I had this vision in my mind of a girl who was fierce, seething as she was dancing and desperate to escape that life and I wanted to know why. I didn’t actually start writing this book until a few years later and it must have been marinating in my head because the idea of the Garden sort of flowed onto the page logically from there.

– What’s on your playlist? Does the music go with your book?

I always write to music. Sometimes when a scene has a certain emotion, I can take the feeling of the music and inject it into the story. I switch back and forth between purely instrumental and songs with lyrics.

Though I have a lengthy playlist for Garden of Thorns, the two songs I listened to a lot through the editing process were “Mother Misery” by Letters from the Fire and “Outstretched Hands” by Starfield.

The first song captured Rose’s desperation at the ending of the book perfectly for me. The song describes a hopeless situation and yet, the singer still has so much hope.

The second song really captured all the questions Rose and Rayce have about each other. Their relationship to me has always been a question of whether they can rely on each other or if the world will get the best of them and this song represents that hesitance even though they want to be together.

 

Meet the Author: 

Website: ambermitchellbooks.com
Twitter : @amberinblunderl
Goodreads
Amazon

 

RoseBlood by A.G Howard | Book Review

217a4-rosebloodROSEBLOOD BY A.G HOWARD

Genre: YA Paranormal, Retelling

“Today you become someone new. From this moment on, you belong to the underworld, from which you were born. You are something monstrous, but beautiful. Something fierce, yet fragile. You are Thorn. The part of the rose that is unloved… that everyone fears for its ability to bring a soul to bleed.”
-A. G Howard, RoseBlood

Synopsis:
In this modern day spin on Leroux’s gothic tale of unrequited love turned to madness, seventeen-year-old Rune Germain has a mysterious affliction linked to her operatic talent, and a horrifying mistake she’s trying to hide. Hoping creative direction will help her, Rune’s mother sends her to a French arts conservatory for her senior year, located in an opera house rumored to have ties to The Phantom of the Opera.

At RoseBlood, Rune secretly befriends the masked Thorn—an elusive violinist who not only guides her musical transformation through dreams that seem more real than reality itself, but somehow knows who she is behind her own masks. As the two discover an otherworldly connection and a soul-deep romance blossoms, Thorn’s dark agenda comes to light and he’s forced to make a deadly choice: lead Rune to her destruction, or face the wrath of the phantom who has haunted the opera house for a century, and is the only father he’s ever known.

Goodreads| Amazon

review

As soon as this book was published I went to the library right away because I have been waiting sine I finished Ensnared. I am a huge fan of A.G Howard, her writing and the beautiful worlds she creates. 

At the beginning of the story I was a little nervous. I know this was a retelling of The Phantom of the Opera, but I felt at times it was taking to much from the original story just at the beginning. That quickly changes and I got pulled into the beautifully described world and the events that were going on. The book was so unique and involved so many layers. It was full of the creepy gothic feel and took a turn I was not expecting.

Of course like many books out in the world there was romance. I have to say I really enjoyed this one and loved how it all unfolded. Rune was a strong protagonist, she had been threw so much and grew so much. She really came into her own throughout the book. The development of all of the characters was so well done. The story of the Phantom and Thorn was heartbreaking and complex. I enjoyed all of the side characters as well especially the animal companions. They really added a lot to the story and made the book more complex 

Overall I really enjoyed this book. The world was amazing with beautiful and heartbreaking stories woven together. This is definitely a unique book that cannot compare to anything else I have read. The incorporation of music and the small cameos from the original were nice touches. Although it was a retelling Howard did an amazing job creating a story all of its own. It caught me by surprised multiple times and threw in some interesting twists to the story. It left me in awe and completely satisfied.

RATING-4

You might also like:

Splintered Trilogy by A.G Howard

This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

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Garden of Thorns by Amber Mitchell | ARC Review

GARDEN OF THORNS BY AMBER MITCHELL

Genre: YA Fantasy

Source: Entangled Teen in return for an honest review

Publication Date: March 7, 2017

Synopsis:
After seven grueling years of captivity in the Garden—a burlesque troupe of slave girls—sixteen-year-old Rose finds an opportunity to escape during a performance for the emperor. But the hostage she randomly chose from the crowd to aid her isn’t one of the emperor’s men—not anymore. He’s the former heir to the throne, who is now leading a rebellion against it.

Rayce is a wanted man and dangerously charismatic, the worst person for Rose to get involved with, no matter what his smile promises. But he assumes Rose’s attempt to take him hostage is part of a plot to crush the rebellion, so he takes her as his hostage. Now Rose must prove where her loyalties lie, and she offers Rayce a deal—if he helps her rescue the other girls, she’ll tell him all the Garden’s secrets.

Except the one secret she’s kept for seven years that she’ll take to her grave if she must.

Goodreads| Amazon

*I would like to thank Entangled Teen for the copy of this book in return for an honest review*

From the very beginning this book dives right in and takes off with thrilling intensity. The concept of the Garden and all that these captured girls go through in this traveling burlesque troupe was so captivating and made me want to continue from the very start. There are secrets, intrigue and kingdoms at war.

I thought Mitchell did a wonderful job with the opening of the book. I was so drawn in from the first page. She was able to maintain my attention and keep me on the edge of my seat until the end, although I did think it faltered a little in the middle. The character development of the main character Rose was so well executed. She had issues and unlike so many YA novels she actually had to work through her issues and face her own demons which was refreshing. I find that in so many novels the issues are presented and then quickly are dissolved. Rose was a strong female heroine and definitely makes the whole female independence a strong motto.

The other characters were really well developed and so well described that I could picture them perfectly. The thing with such great character development is I feel like Mitchell fell a little short on the world building. There was so much room for great world development being a fantasy novel and even more about the Garden. I was really intrigued by the concept of the Garden and wanted more from it.

I had just a few other issues with this book and without giving too much away, I thought the romance at times was too much. I really liked the way it ended but at the beginning it came on too strong and didn’t follow Roses beliefs but Mitchell managed to straighten it out and actually make me really happy that it was in the story and added a great component. The last problem I found was with how quickly they threw Rose out on missions and how she was trusted with little to no training.

Overall, I found this story to be very unique and nothing I have read before. It did not shy away from the gruesome details and wasn’t afraid to not let a strong female overcome obstacles and shine. Garden of Thorns was a fast read and kept me on the edge of my seat, never knowing what was going to happen the whole time. It made me experience a wide range of emotions and actually had an ending I cannot complain about. I really recommend YA fantasy readers who enjoy strong female leads and times of war and unrest to pick this book up!

You might also like:

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst

Alanna by Tamora Pierce

Girl In The Blue Coat by Monica Hesse | Book Review

26030682GIRL IN THE BLUE COAT BY MONICA HESSE

Genre: YA Historical Fiction

Source: Novl in return for an honest review

“Maybe we can’t barter our feelings away, trading good deeds for bad ones and expecting to become whole.”
Monica Hesse, Girl in the Blue Coat

Synopsis:
Amsterdam, 1943. Hanneke spends her days finding and delivering sought-after black market goods to paying customers, nights hiding the true nature of her work from her concerned parents, and every waking moment mourning her boyfriend, who was killed on the Dutch front lines when the German army invaded. Her illegal work keeps her family afloat, and Hanneke also likes to think of it as a small act of rebellion against the Nazis.

On a routine delivery, a client asks Hanneke for help. Expecting to hear that Mrs. Janssen wants meat or kerosene, Hanneke is shocked by the older woman’s frantic plea to find a person: a Jewish teenager Mrs. Janssen had been hiding, who has vanished without a trace from a secret room. Hanneke initially wants nothing to do with such a dangerous task but is ultimately drawn into a web of mysteries and stunning revelations—where the only way out is through.

Beautifully written, intricately plotted, and meticulously researched, Girl in the Blue Coat is an extraordinary, unforgettable story of bravery, grief, and love in impossible times.

Goodreads | Amazon 

review

I feel like I should give it some more time before I write this review. I am still unsure of the rating I want to give this book. First off I waited way to long to read this book that is for sure. I was sent an ARC of this book by Novl for review last year and put off reading for some reason. I’ve been on a historical fiction kick.

Girl in the Blue Coat is a YA Historical Fiction novel based during the German occupation in the Netherlands during WWII. This book is full of heartbreak, mystery, loss and the underground of the war. The beautifully written book was not at all what I expected it to be and I found it to be a great moving story.

The characters are well developed and complex in each their own way. I enjoyed seeing the revelations that each character came to throughout the novel and relationships that were created. Hanneke has been through a lot already since the start of the occupation living with the guilt of her actions and the stress of providing for her family. She grows so much throughout the story . The complexity of the characters and their struggles and fight drive forward the novel.

I am not sure what else to say about this book because it was a quick read although filled with a lot of emotions. I did enjoy this story, but felt like it had a few slight flaws for me that could not make it an amazing 5 star read. There were times when I felt like the story dragged and was a little repetitive. I needed a driving force to the story that was lacking, but the characters and their development did make up for some of that.

Overall this book explains the darkness of human nature and the flaws that each of us carry with us but also the bravery and strength that can come in the most unlikely of times. This book is perfect for historical fiction lovers especially those who enjoy delving into the WWII era stories. It is full of surprises and mystery and completely threw me when I thought I knew where it was going.

RATING

1

You might also like:

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Salt To The Sea by Ruta Sepetys

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