Saturday, 30 May 2015

Spelled Blog Tour! Review + Giveaway

Spelled by Betsy Schow
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release Date: June 2nd 2015
Rate: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Fairy Tale Survival Rule #32: If you find yourself at the mercy of a wicked witch, sing a romantic ballad and wait for your Prince Charming to save the day.

Yeah, no thanks. Dorthea is completely princed out. Sure being the crown princess of Emerald has its perks—like Glenda Original ball gowns and Hans Christian Louboutin heels. But a forced marriage to the brooding prince Kato is so not what Dorthea had in mind for her enchanted future.

Talk about unhappily ever after.

Trying to fix her prince problem by wishing on a (cursed) star royally backfires, leaving the kingdom in chaos and her parents stuck in some place called "Kansas." Now it's up to Dorthea and her pixed off prince to find the mysterious Wizard of Oz and undo the curse...before it releases the wickedest witch of all and spells The End for the world of Story.
Oh I am SO happy I chose to review SPELLED for this blog tour. What an amazing story! Just to prepare you if you decide to read it though; Goodreads will tell you it's a standalone novel but it's not. Although there is no life-ruining cliffhanger, there is promise for another book. A sequel I will definitely be trying to get my hands on early!

I was happily surprised by this fairy tale retelling (kind of) of The Wizard of Oz. I found myself giggling throughout a good portion of it and believe me when I say I probably highlighted more than I left blank. I expected a retelling and a backwards one at that but what I did not expect was humor and characters that were so cleverly intertwined with one another. I had so much fun figuring out who was from which well-known fairy tale. Schow also made the story very modern with Story's own brands that are very similar to our own world. Like, for example, they totally have UPS over there! (United Pegasus Service, duh). And Flitter where Dorthea can connect with her close friend, Cinderella, and when that was out of use she could easily call up Beauty on her spellphone. Ha!

Dorthea was, at first, a character I would gladly give that extra nudge if she happened to find herself standing at the edge of a cliff. She was entitled and better-than. By the end she was barely recognisable. The character development was immense and so redeeming. She went from being a spoilt little brat of a naive princess to a fiery (ha) warrior princess ready to risk it all for the few people she grew to love and respect. She was someone I grew to like, I wouldn't say I connected with her per se. I mean how does one properly connect with someone like that? I did respect her though.

"Evil is tough to override, because it's ingrained in the soul. Nutcases, however, I could work with, and this lady was off her toadstool."

Kato was definitely my favourite character in this entire story. From the very beginning he wasn't afraid to speak his mind and tell the rude Dorthea off. He was enchanting in most everything he did and watching his feelings shift for the girl he once loathed was so rewarding knowing the journey they went through together. I cannot wait  to see how things develop between them.

"So sit down, grow up, and start acting like the kind of princess your people deserve."

Rexi was another character I liked for the simple fact that she wasn't afraid to knock Dorthea down a peg or seven when need be. She was fiesty and sarcastic which instantly makes her easy to connect to, for me anyways.

"...Build a bridge, then make like a billy goat and get over it already because no one is listening."

There was such a wide array of other characters here, maybe the biggest I've ever read about. I think it brought a lot of atmosphere to the story and without them it would literally just be a princess, a servant and a weird half-lion-half-dragon walking through the woods. It also helped that they were often characters from other fairy tales, it was fun to pick them out and match them to their original stories. There were also bibliobugs and wicked witches that listened to Wrong Direction so what are you missing here? NOTHING.

"She should know better than to mess with me in the middle of a shoe crisis, so I replied with the well-recognised dwarf hand sign telling her to Hi-Ho herself off a cliff."

Insta-love? Nada! Believe me... No instantaneous affection here in the slightest. I think that made the whole build up between Dorthea and Kato much sweeter and I really did enjoy the moments they had together. That being said, there weren't that many moments which don't get me wrong, is a good thing here. With so much going on and the main story line being that Dorthea is lost in some whacked out story world, the romance took a back seat and appeared at perfect moments.

At the beginning (or end? It was hard to tell because the ARC version was sort of just one long chapter) of each chapter was a 'quote' from some sort of book or magazine from the world of Story. These were such great additions! I'm going to list a few of my favourites below and, believe me, it was hard to only choose a few.

"It's not really a party until a fight breaks out and all seven dwarfs are passed out underneath the punch bowl." - Excerpt from "How to Have a Blast at Your Next Ball"  in Fairy Vogue
"Rule #99: Sacrifice is necessary to gain anything of worth. Usually a pumpkin or a few mice will suffice. Never offer your first born though." - Definitive Fairy Tale Survival Guide: Volume 1
"If it looks too good to be true, it probably is." Gretel from Candy Kills: A True Story
The story developed really well and became unputdownable. I cannot wait to see what Schow has in store the the second book. *grabby hands* Gimme!

Most of the crowd had dispersed. The final few stragglers looked at me with the all­ too-common look of fear mixed with trepidation. Pix ’em. They were just servants. It wasn’t like their opinion mattered.

Only one remained, watching me with open curiosity. He looked to be in his late teens or was magically enhanced to appear so. He could have been a hundred for all I knew. I’d never seen him before in my life. He was handsome enough, for a commoner, even in his worn leather pants and cracked work boots. A foreigner, his hair was unruly and dark auburn, which complemented his tanned but dirt-smudged complexion, though the tall, dark stranger vibe was ruined by his piercing pale blue eyes.

Well, I’d had enough of being a sideshow for the day. “If you’re the new gardener, the hedges are overgrown and in need of a trim.” I pointed in the direction of my father. “While you’re there, you can help the king with the wisps.”

The young man’s expression clouded over, but he didn’t move.

I stamped my foot and pointed more forcefully. “Off with you. Courtyard’s that way. Be sure to clean those awful boots before coming back in.”

“Someone told me I’d find a princess of great worth here. One with the strength to be the hero this realm needs.” He stared at me with those unsettling blue eyes. They were cold, like ice water—made me shiver from head to toe. Then his gaze seemed to search even deeper. Finally, he looked through me, like I was nothing.

In brisk steps, he strode across the marble to the courtyard. But before crossing the threshold, he turned back to glare at me with his lip curled ever so slightly. “It seems she was mistaken.”

Just like that, I had been sifted, weighed, and found wanting.

I felt my own lip curl in response. How rude! Who the Grimm was this peasant to judge me? I was wearing a Glenda original. Original! Not some fairy-godmother knockoff worn by those servant girls turned royal. I was a crown princess, for the love of fairy, and no one dismissed me.

Before I could put the boy in his place—down in the dirt, where he belonged—a clatter came from behind, making me nearly jump out of my shoes. I checked and was relieved that Sterling had simply dropped his sword. By the time I looked back, the gardener was gone.

After stowing his blade, Sterling held up his shield, not in defense of the entrance but so he could look at his reflection. “Clearly he’s blind and doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”

I didn’t ask for Sterling’s opinion, but it made me feel better.

Until he opened his mouth again.

“Worth, pffft. I mean, look around at all the jewels. Your palace has everything you could ever want. Honestly, I don’t know what you’re fussing about. Why would anyone want to leave?”

Because a cage is still a cage, no matter how big or glittering the bars are.

And I would find a way free, no matter the cost.

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Follow the Spelled by Betsy Schow Blog Tour and don't miss anything! Click on the banner to see the tour schedule.

BETSY SCHOW is the TODAY Show featured author of the non-fiction book, Finished Being Fat; however she’s been mixing up real life and fantasy for as long as she can remember. If someone were to ask about her rundown truck, she’s 100% positive that mechanical gremlins muck up her engine. And the only reason her house is dirty is because the dust bunnies have gone on strike. She lives in Utah with her own knight in geeky armor and their two princesses (that can totally shapeshift into little beasts). When not writing, she acts as the Tournament Director for Odyssey of the Mind and helps teach kids creative thinking (or how to turn their toasters into robots).

Her debut novel, Spelled, comes out June 2015 from Sourcebooks. She is represented by Michelle Witte, Mansion Street Literary Agency.


Friday, 29 May 2015

Book Review: Sisters of Blood and Spirit by Kady Cross

Sisters of Blood and Spirit (Sisters of Blood and Spirit #1) by Kady Cross
Publication Date: March 31st, 2015
Format: eARC from Netgalley

Wren Noble is dead—she was born that way. Vibrant, unlike other dead things, she craves those rare moments when her twin sister allows her to step inside her body and experience the world of the living.

Lark Noble is alive but often feels she belongs in the muted Shadow Lands—the realm of the dead. Known as the crazy girl who talks to her dead sister, she doesn't exactly fit in with the living, though a recent suicide attempt and time in a psych ward have proved to her she's not ready to join her sister in the afterlife.

Now the guy who saved Lark's life needs her to repay the favor. He and his friends have been marked for death by the malevolent spirit of a vicious and long-dead serial killer, and the twins—who should know better than to mess with the dead—may be their only hope of staying alive.
Before I forget, actually, the copy that I've read is an eARC provided by Netgalley and Harlequin Teen. The published copy may be different than the copy I've read. This review are my honest thoughts and I was in no way compensated for this review.

Lark has been with her twin sister ever since she was born. The thing is... this sister, Wren, isn't alive. She's a ghost that, somehow, remained attached to Lark. As a younger girl, though, she always told her parents that she was only an imaginary friend that she talked to a lot. As she grew up, though, saying that she was an imaginary friend didn't work out anymore. In fact, she was thought to be... the odd girl out.

It reached to the point to where she decided that enough was enough and decided to make an attempt on her life. Maybe, potentially, so she could be with her sister for the rest of their lives. But someone saved her... and she was pushed in the psych ward for her own sanity.

She gets released, which is where this book starts. She's forced to try to be a normal person again and to make new friends. Or, at least, attempt to become a normal person again at school. But the person who saved her remembers her... and knows that she owes him for saving her life. And he's made the request for Lark and Wren to save him and his friends from being haunted from a ghost... and it just might be his last request if he's not careful.

The story has an interesting concept. It has this sort of 'Supernatural' sort of feel to it, honestly, but from a teenage girl's point of view. But what makes this stand out is that Lark has the luck of having a friendly ghost to help her out. But... that's it.

Now... I enjoyed the storyline in this book but I found myself disliking the writing in itself. The writing, I felt, was too simplistic for my tastes. Potentially even too elementary. It's hard to explain, but I'll... try my best. Things are just too straight forward for a book like this. This book revolves around ghosts and spirits, I'd imagine a book like this would be a more 'show, don't tell' sort of book, but it never felt like that for me. I never really felt immersed in the story as much as I feel like I should. Which is a shame... if it wasn't for that, I would have given this a higher rating.

Plus, there are many things that I feel like that haven't been answered that should have been, like... why Lark can see ghosts other than there were twins like her and Wren in the past. I would have thought to do at least a little research about it. Also, don't get me started on the tension between Sarah and Lark- that was really unnecessary in my opinion, especially close to the end.

Speaking of the ending... obviously, I'm not going to give any details because spoilers, but... come on. I felt like it was one of those endings where, because the book was suppose to end, it was just a lazy way to end it quicker rather than giving it a logical solution. 

But who knows- maybe there will be a sequel that will explain everything and everything will finally make sense. It certainly did feel like a base story with so much more that could be added. But unless the writing improves, I don't think I'll ever feel truly immersed into this story. I feel slightly embarrassed that it took me about ten days to finish this... and it was mostly because I wasn't properly engaged with the characters. It's a shame cause I was really hoping to like this book.

Right Next Door Cover Reveal

RightNextDoor Final[6]Right Next Door by AJ Pryor
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Day: June 30th
My fiancĂ© is officially a married man. The only problem is that he isn’t married to me. . .

Addison Peacock has been stuck in the same seaside town her entire life. When her college boyfriend proposes the night before graduation, she can finally see the future she’d always dreamt about. But the sudden illness of her father causes her to put that future on hold, and her soon-to-be husband leaves, with nothing but a promise that one day he’ll return.

Now, five years later, he’s kept that promise. There’s only one problem . . . he’s already married.

Crushed twice by the same man, Addison needs a distraction, someone to get her back on her feet and mend her broken heart.

As luck would have it, Damian Walker has just moved in next door.

Having rebuilt his own life after a drunk driver stole his career, his heart . . . everything, Damian knows what it’s going to take to get Addison’s life back on track. But he’s not going to be anyone’s rebound. His life is complicated . . . there’s no room for one-night stands. Until Addison knows what she’s looking for, neighbors are all they’ll ever be.

One shared wall, two sun-kissed balconies, and a chance at love...a twist of fate. Could the possibility of a future be right next door? 

The door flies open, slamming against the inside wall, and momentarily startling me. “What now!”

At first, I’m caught off guard by her irate greeting, but as she stands frozen in the doorway, her eyes grow wide in surprise, and a blush shadows her ivory face. Damn. She’s beautiful. I have to bite my lip to stifle a grin.

“I’m sorry. I thought you were somebody else.” Her tongue darts out and licks nervously at her lips. An intense desire to capture it between my teeth and slide it between my own lips spikes through me.

Leaning casually against her doorframe, I cross my arms over my chest. “I heard something crash. Is everything okay?” Her shoulders drop slightly, and her hard eyes soften, meeting mine.

“Yeah, everything’s fine. A friend made me angry, and I threw a vase at the wall.”

This time I can’t hide my amusement. “You either have a very short fuse or an asshole for a friend.”

The tension slips further from her shoulders, and she smiles at my remark. “It’s the latter.” Shit, so maybe model dude is her boyfriend. What am I doing here? I don’t have time in my life for shit like this, but I also can’t seem to make my feet walk away.

“Well, I can promise I’m not an asshole, and I’m not doing anything tonight. Do you want to grab a drink?” She looks down at her watch and bites her bottom lip in contemplation, her hesitancy making me uneasy. “Come on, Green Eyes, it’s only nine o’clock.”

Pathetic, I’m begging a girl I should be running from to have a drink with me. Those eyes instantly meet mine and are filled with a sudden shine that wasn’t there a minute ago.

“Do you want to come in and watch American Ninja Warrior with me?” The request comes so quickly I almost miss it. In fact, the only part I understood was that she wants me to come inside her place. Hell yeah, I’m coming inside. But first, I need to know what we’re doing because at this moment, what my dick hears is ‘coming inside’ and it has its own idea as to what that means.

Suddenly she’s laughing, and it’s awesome. Her entire face brightens, and her eyes twinkle like I’ve never seen. Her happiness is settling in my chest and making me grin at her like a damn schoolboy.

“You have no idea what I’m talking about do you?” Her laughter subsides and leaves her with a smile that is . . . stunning.

“No clue. Only that you asked me in, and yet, I’m still standing in your doorway.”    
A.J. Pryor lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two daughters. If not home writing, you can find her at the beach, the yoga studio or the soccer field with her girls. An avid reader of contemporary romance, new adult and young adult novels, her Kindle is always within reach. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

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The Edge of Forever Blog Tour! Review + Favourite Quotes + Giveaway

The Edge of Forever by Melissa E. Hurst
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Release Date: June 2nd 2015
Rate: 4 out of 5 stars
In 2013: Sixteen-year-old Alora is having blackouts. Each time she wakes up in a different place with no idea of how she got there. The one thing she is certain of? Someone is following her.

In 2146: Seventeen-year-old Bridger is one of a small number of people born with the ability to travel to the past. While on a routine school time trip, he sees the last person he expected—his dead father. The strangest part is that, according to the Department of Temporal Affairs, his father was never assigned to be in that time. Bridger’s even more stunned when he learns that his by-the-book father was there to break the most important rule of time travel—to prevent someone’s murder.

And that someone is named Alora.

Determined to discover why his father wanted to help a “ghost,” Bridger illegally shifts to 2013 and, along with Alora, races to solve the mystery surrounding her past and her connection to his father before the DTA finds him. If he can stop Alora’s death without altering the timeline, maybe he can save his father too.
First of all... THAT COVER. Oh I love it. To be honest, I'm impressed when covers aren't just naked guy's chests because let's be real, those are pretty common now. But I digress. I love this cover because it's so different to any I've ever seen before.

The first 25% of TEoF were slow, I'll admit, but once I got past that... OH MY GOODNESS. Once I got in to it a fire blazing through my house couldn't have pulled me away. I was flipping pages like a mad woman til the end. But yeah, the beginning was slow and a little hard to fully immerse myself in.

I liked Alora's character. Alora, even through her inner turmoil and confusion, wanted to be a good person. At one point she was lying constantly to one person who meant the world to her and you could really see the struggle in her heart. She was headstrong and brave even from the beginning. I do wish there had been more character development with her but there's time for that in the sequel. I'm positive she'll impress me even more there.

"Trevor is so used to getting everything he wants, but it's time he realizes I'm not a prize for him to win."

Bridger was sort of the same in respects to the headstrong and brave traits. The difference was that he was brought up to be like that but in times of need he didn't falter and always, always  put other people first. That's something I wish I saw in more fictional characters. There's always someone worse off than you and I feel like Bridger personified this saying, 100%. He didn't moan and whine and bitch he just did.

"For the first time since that whole mess on Monday, Alora really smiles. It's beautiful, lighting up her whole face. I love it.. I stare at her lips. I want to kiss her more than anything."

The whole host of secondary characters were so diverse. I didn't care for a good portion of them because they're crappy people but the others were so wonderfully whole as human beings. Alora's Aunt Grace for one. She took everything in stride and I really liked her character.

I also liked the split point of view chapters. Both were equally interesting and the chapters were perfect in length. I was never bored of one POV but I did appreciate the constant switch to keep me interested.

Now, romance is such a fickle thing in books. It can be perfect and heart-stopping but it can also be in-your-face and icky. It call fall flat or it can conquer. What I LOVED about the romance aspect in this book was that it didn't overshadow any part of the story. The main story lines were carried out and the romance was a sort of back drop that I liked looking at every once in a while.

"I focus on holding her and how her body fits perfectly against mine. How she smells of lavender and rain. The heaviness in my chest begins to lessen."

I had SO many theories when reading this story. Like a ridiculous amount. But even towards the end I was kept guessing and I was genuinely surprised by some of the twists and turns. 

One of the reasons I don't tend to pick up time travel books is because they can be so confusing and really hard for me to keep up with whether that be because there's too much going on at once and I can literally feel my brain turning to mush or because whatever is happening is so far out there it's difficult to believe. Hurst did an incredible job of weaving the two main character's worlds together and I can easily say she's a genius within the time travel genre. It's not often I find a time travel story that doesn't make me want to rub my temples to make the headache go away. 
I found myself gaping sometimes at how well the whole thing was intertwined because there were parts in the beginning that didn't make sense and then BOOM, I'm shown the relevance of the scene and by the end I had the urge to go back and read it all over again now that I knew the crazy that is Alora and Bridger's lives. I've never been so happy to be so confused. Seriously. I tend to shy away from time travel novels because the constant switching between time periods is inevitable and the dates can get confusing if not done right. I think the author did such a good job here and I can't praise her enough for this. The back and forth ran smoothly and interconnected so perfectly. There were no faults there whatsoever.

"My life could be the plot of a movie. The only thing missing is an evil madman and then it would be perfect."

Now in terms of content warnings there are almost none. I mean there's no sexual content whatsover, the most we get is a kiss, maybe two, I can't remember exactly... But that's the steamiest it gets. The only thing to watch out for is the language, especially during Bridger's chapters. I don't remember any major swear words but there are a few minor ones in there. Bridger actually uses, what I assume, are swear words more common in his own time that insinuate harsher ones from our time. Like he uses 'fure' a lot opposed to f-bombs.

But you guys, let's talk about something serious here. IT happened. Every reader's worst nightmare. That one line that just pops up out of nowhere in tons of books across all genres. It doesn't matter which way it's worded, it's still as painful and a little piece of my heart leaves with every mention of this sentence.

"I blow out the breath I didn't realize I'd been holding."

*Intense shuddering* WHY?!

Overall a wonderful read. I still have a ton of questions and there's a lot of material to cover here but hey, that's what sequels are for. This has such potential and I really hope the second book shines just as much as this one did for me.
The ending was a good one. Enough of a cliffhanger to keep me interested but not so much that I'm left in a dark corner to rock as I wait for the second book... I'm still hoping I wont be waiting too long though! If anyone finds out the release date for the second book do leave a comment for me!

Follow the The Edge of Forever by Melissa E. Hurst Blog Tour and don't miss anything! Click on the banner to see the tour schedule.

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Melissa lives in the southern US with her husband and three kids. She writes YA science fiction and fantasy, which means she considers watching Star Trek and Firefly as research. She dreams of traveling around the world and maybe finding Atlantis one day. You can usually find her with a book in one hand and a Dr. Pepper in the other. Or consuming lots of chocolate.

THE EDGE OF FOREVER is her debut novel.

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