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This week’s topic is…FREEBIE!
Top Ten Soon-to-be-Released Books that I Wish I Could Read Right Now
(Click on the book cover to be linked to its Goodreads page or my review)
(Click on the book cover to be linked to its Goodreads page or my review)
Welcome to my monthly recap post, in which I fangirl over the books I read this month, bookish items I acquired, book events I attended, bookish news, and/or subscription boxes I received in the month of February.
(Click on the banner to be linked to blog post)
(This does not include Kindle purchases)
Meeting Stephanie Garber, the author of Caraval
My new, lovely eyeshadow brushes from Storybook Cosmetics
This month I tried out the “Once Upon a Bookcase” subscription box, because the theme was “Classic Victorian Romance.” Eekkk… and words cannot express how much I love my Jane Eyre phone case.
Title: The Shadow Queen
Author: C.J. Redwine
Publication date: February 16, 2016
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retelling, Romance
Format: Hardcover (purchased)
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Lorelai Diederich, crown princess and fugitive at large, has one mission: kill the wicked queen who took both the Ravenspire throne and the life of her father. To do that, Lorelai needs to use the one weapon she and Queen Irina have in common—magic. She’ll have to be stronger, faster, and more powerful than Irina, the most dangerous sorceress Ravenspire has ever seen.
In the neighboring kingdom of Eldr, when Prince Kol’s father and older brother are killed by an invading army of magic-wielding ogres, the second-born prince is suddenly given the responsibility of saving his kingdom. To do that, Kol needs magic—and the only way to get it is to make a deal with the queen of Ravenspire, promise to become her personal huntsman…and bring her Lorelai’s heart.
But Lorelai is nothing like Kol expected—beautiful, fierce, and unstoppable—and despite dark magic, Lorelai is drawn in by the passionate and troubled king. Fighting to stay one step ahead of the dragon huntsman—who she likes far more than she should—Lorelai does everything in her power to ruin the wicked queen. But Irina isn’t going down without a fight, and her final move may cost the princess the one thing she still has left to lose.
Confession time: I have met C.J. Redwine over ten times (probably even more, but hey, who’s counting?). I love going to C.J.’s events and hearing her talk about her books, life, and her writing shenanigans. I’ve met her hilarious husband, while purchasing her first book; during our first meeting, he showed me his tattoo of the barcode for one of C.J.’s books (yes, he is just as awesome as C.J.). But even though I am a huge fan of the wonderful and passionate C.J. Redwine, and I own all of her books, this is the first book of her’s that I have read, and you guys, I loved it!!!
You guys, whenever I’m in Nashville for a book event, I make sure I am in C.J.’s audience. She’s a great public speaker, and even though she has faced many difficulties in her past, her power and fierce attitude shine bright when she talks about her work, and I love that about her. First off, I have heard C.J. talk about the beginning formation of The Shadow Queen at least 3 times. I know it started off after viewing The Huntsman starring Kristen Stewart and Chris Hemsworth. I know that this is a planned series of 10 books, 4 confirmed to be published, and each book can be read separately.
Fantasy books and retellings will always be dear to my heart. They are my escape from reality. They are my dreams manifesting into unknown worlds filled with feisty and independent princesses, talking animals, and die-hard adventures. Fortunately, The Shadow Queen contained all the elements I love about fantasy books and MORE.
The main character of The Shadow Queen, Lorelai Diederich, is now one of my favorite literary heroines. She is fiery, caring, and dedicated to righting the wrongs of her kingdom. Throughout the story, she stays faithful to her mission to save her kingdom, but she also faces each obstacle she encounters with relentless strength and diligence. As a princess, a sister, a friend, and a warrior, she offers a lot to the story. Lorelai loses so much in this book, but instead of wallowing in self-pity, SHE PERSISTS!
And not to give too much away, but I love how magic and magical beings are immersed in this Snow White retelling. We have everything from poisonous apples, transforming dragons, mind-speaking pet birds, and terrorizing ogres. Magic is cherished in this book, and even though it may be used by some as a selfish means, it is also the perfect resource to conquering evil.
Last, even though one of my favorite characters dies in this book (WHY?! THERE WAS SO MUCH POTENTIAL and DEVELOPMENT THERE!!), I really enjoyed this book. I honestly cannot wait to start The Wish Granter and read C.J. Redwine’s new twist on an old fairy tale.
NOTE: I was not provided a copy of this book by the author or the publisher in an exchange for a review. I bought this book with my own funds. I reviewed it at my own discretion. All statements and opinions in this review are mine.
Author: Wendy Higgins
Publication date: February 14, 2017
Publisher: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
Genres: New Adult, Romance, Science Fiction, Dystopian
Format: Kindle (Purchased)
About the Book:
New York Times bestselling author Wendy Higgins brings you the second book in this thrilling apocalyptic world…
Being on the run in the desert means food and sanctuary are hard to come by, but Amber Tate and her crew are not about to give up. Not after having the things they love brutally ripped from them by an unknown enemy who sent their world into the apocalypse.
Survival takes precedence, but once safe shelter is found, their guards fall and the emotions they’ve been holding in are finally released. Anger, insecurities…lust. In their tight quarters, Amber, Rylen, Tater, and Remy can’t escape it. The past must be faced, and passions run even stronger in the darkest of times.
In the midst of unrest, their worlds are rocked again when they discover the truth about the war that’s ruined their lives. They thought finding out the enemy’s identity would give them the edge; instead it’s revealed terrifying dangers they never thought possible.
Wendy Higgins has a natural talent for writing engaging books, and her latest edition to the Unknown Trilogy, Unrest, proves how amazing of a storyteller she is. I swear this story sucks you in, and with every page you cannot look away. Unrest is action-packed, conspiracy driven, and contains just the right amount of romance to make your heart ache. I savored every word of this book, and afterwards immediately looked up the release date for Book 3 (which, by the way, is currently November 2017).
One of the reasons I love this series is because of the focus on the brother and sister relationship between Amber and her brother Tater. As individuals they are fierce and strong, but as a duo they are stronger, fiercer, and smarter. I like that they have their differences, but as family they are connected on a deeper level to protect and take care of each other. They don’t always agree on things, but their sibling-love shines more brightly with every struggle they face.
Additionally, I love this series because of the science fiction vibes behind the pages. Conspiracy theories and well articulated action-packed scenes are my favorite story-driven devices used in apocalypse books. Higgins’ craft provides so many twists, turns, and “oh-shit” moments throughout the book. I love how in one moment I’m one the edge of my seat and the next I’m in the character’s minds thinking about curing UTIs. When faced with outsiders taking over your country, Higgins proves that survival is more than finding allies. Her characters realize survival takes love, guts, strength, and the dependence on the knowledge of the past, nature, and the resources that surround them.
And last, I’m not going to lie, but the number one reason I love this series is due to the sizzling connection between Amber “Pepper” and Rylen. When you’re facing an apocalyptic catastrophe, falling in love is probably not the first thing on your survival list. But sorry not sorry, their infuriating crush slowly rolling into sexy times was always going through the back of my mind as I read this book. I love how endearing their friendship is depicted. They depend on each other for balance to stay sane and safe in their ruined world. And even though I might be focused on the idea of more smoochies, I just think these two belong together.
Now give me book three, please!
NOTE: I was not provided a copy of this book by the author or the publisher in an exchange for a review; I reviewed it at my own discretion. All statements and opinions in this review are mine.
The Piper’s Price
(The Neverland Wars #2)
Published by: Clean Reads Publishing
Publication date: February 21st 2017
Genres: Fairy Tales, Retelling, Young Adult
Peter is plotting his retaliation against the latest bombing. Neverland needs an army, and Peter Pan is certain children will join him once they know what is at stake. The lost boys and girls are planning an invasion in suburbia to recruit, but in order to deliver their message, they will need the help of an old and dangerous associate—the infamous Pied Piper.Hunting him down will require a spy in in the real world, and Gwen soon finds herself in charge of locating the Piper and cutting an uncertain deal with him. She isn’t sure if Peter trusts her that much, or if he’s just trying to keep her away from him in Neverland. Are they friends, or just allies? But Peter might not even matter now that she’s nearly home and meeting with Jay again.The Piper isn’t the only one hiding from the adults’ war on magic though, and when Gwen goes back to reality, she’ll have to confront one of Peter’s oldest friends… and one of his earliest enemies.
They found the forest’s hiking trail moments before breaking the tree line. “Where are we going, Peter?” He was heading toward a mobile home community next to the state park.
He continued to walk with confidence. His usual cocky stride looked surprisingly like the swagger of an ordinary teenage boy. “My friend lives here. Don’t worry. Don’t look like such a stranger here.”
She didn’t want to appear conspicuous, but Gwen was too baffled to help it. The unkempt lawns were boxed in by chain-link fences covered in varying degrees of rust. They passed a lawn littered with bicycles; on the other side of the gravel street, two different cars were parked on the lawn, clearly non-functional. Satellite dishes were on every trailer home. Despite all being painted differently, the track housing still managed to present a uniformity of depressing color.
Multiple houses had motorcycles out front or a dog milling around their yard. When she and Peter passed a pack of Rottweilers, the dogs ran up to the fence and began snarling until all the other dogs in the neighborhood were barking too. “Ignore it,” Peter advised her.
She was scared. This was not the sort of place she ever expected to visit with Peter. She didn’t trust his ability to protect her here. This wasn’t his world, but it wasn’t hers either. They were both out of their element. Peter just didn’t have the sense to realize it.
Winding down the gravel road, Gwen matched Peter’s pace almost step for step. They approached a blue-and-grey house. Like the others, it had wooden latticework around the bottom to help obscure the fact it didn’t have a foundation in the ground. The square house reminded Gwen of how she would take shoeboxes and try to turn them into homes for her dolls by decorating them. It was hard to fathom that she was walking up the plastic steps of the porch to knock on the door.
She waited, feeling her heartbeat in her throat, her toes, and everywhere besides her chest. Even the predictable noise of the door opening startled her.
A woman with a long, black braid and beige cardigan stood in the doorway. Gwen looked up at her, and then watched as the sharp features of her dark face dissolved into unadulterated shock.
The startled woman ushered them in. She was just as uncomfortable with their presence in the trailer park as Gwen. Once inside, they stood in a living room full of old furniture, facing a kitchen with old electric appliances. There was no unity or romance to the orange recliner, chipped mixing bowl, off-white blender, dull toaster, and sunken couch. It was a bunch of old stuff that looked like it represented several decades of objects abandoned at Goodwill. The chingadera and bric-a-brac wasn’t any more cohesive: porcelain angles, an antique pot, a vase full of bird feathers, and a stopped clock made the place confusing and strange in the same way her grandmother’s house had been.
“What are you doing here?” she hissed, pulling her cardigan close and tossing her thick braid over her shoulder and out of her way. She had a shapeless housedress underneath the beige sweater, and a pair of black leggings insulating her legs as she stomped around, heavy-footed in her leather slippers. She looked comfortable, except for the unexpected guests who were putting her so ill at ease. “You shouldn’t be here.”
“I need your help,” Peter said.
“They’re still keeping tabs on me.”
“That’s why I came in disguise.”
“You’re being irresponsible. You’re jeopardizing us both, and Neverland to boot.”
“I took all the right precautions. This is important.” Hollyhock and Foxglove wrestled their way out of the pixie purse and came twinkling out now that they knew they were safely inside.
“You brought fairies here?” she exclaimed. She leaned down and grabbed a hold of his arm, forcing him to look her dead in her dark eyes. Gwen wanted to leave. This wasn’t a friend, not anymore. This was a grown-up, and unlike Antoine the aviator, she was not amused with Peter’s wartime antics.
“What happens if they figure it out and come to question me?”
Peter scoffed. “You won’t tell them.”
“What if they threaten to arrest me? They could put me away forever until I told them what they needed to know, and nobody here would stop them.”
Peter broke free of her hold with ease; she wasn’t actually trying to restrain him. “Preposterous,” he declared. “If they did that, you would sit, stone-faced and silent in your cell until they all died.”
“What if they beat me?”
“You’d take the blows as though you were made of rock, and you would not speak.” Peter seemed to disregard the question.
“What if they tortured me and stuck blades under my nails?” she demanded.
“Then you would not even scream, but stay silent as a stone!” Peter insisted, hopping up onto a wooden kitchen chair at her dining table, looking down at the woman.
“What if they bring knives and cut off my fingers, one at a time, until I told them how to find you?”
Peter yelled right back, “Then you would steal their knives and scalp them all like the redskin princess you are!”
Her anger slunk off her face and out of her shoulders. She shook her head, frowning as a sad laugh escaped her. She clung to her sweater, blinking back tears, until, at last, she flung her arms around Peter. Still on the chair, he had to bend down to return the embrace.
“Oh, Peter,” she muttered, unaware of the tears slipping off her smiling face. “Oh, Peter.”
“It’s good to see you, Tiger Lily.”
Author Bio:Audrey Greathouse is a lost child in a perpetual and footloose quest for her own post-adolescent Neverland. Originally from Seattle, she earned her English B.A. from Southern New Hampshire University’s online program while backpacking around the west coast and pretending to be a student at Stanford. A pianist, circus artist, fire-eater, street mime, swing dancer, and novelist, Audrey wears many hats wherever she is. She has grand hopes for the future which include publishing more books and owning a crockpot. You can find her at audreygreathouse.com.
Author: Temple West
Release Date: February 14, 2017
Publisher: In Medias Res Publications
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal, Romance
This high-stakes sequel to Velvet proves that when you’re the only human caught in a paranormal war, high school can get a little tricky. With Adrian’s brother trapped in hell, the Praetorian Guard has made Stony Creek their base-of-operations, but Caitlin has a bad feeling they’re more interested in her than in finding Lucian. Caught in a sea of conspiracies and lies, Caitlin and Adrian perform a risky magical procedure in an attempt to protect Caitlin from compulsion.
Relieved that her nightmares have ended, Caitlin is disturbed to find that something even stranger has taken their place.
Determined to get on with her life, even amid a crazy paranormal manhunt, she applies for a competitive summer fashion internship in New York. Searching desperately for answers about what Caitlin might be, how Adrian’s father is involved, and where Lucian has been kidnapped to, Caitlin and Adrian must rely on each other to survive. But when the truth finally comes to light, the consequences are unimaginable.
And the question still haunts them both: even if they survive, how will they deal with the fact that Adrian is immortal and Caitlin is not?
You know how some people think that vampire books are overrated, especially young adult vampire books? Well, those people are wrong. When I go into fantasy or paranormal books, I’m always looking for three things: 1. Well-developed characters; 2. Great world-building; and 3. Originality–and the possibility of a new spin on old ideas. Temple West’s Velvet series has all of these qualities, and Cashmere, the second book to Caitlin and Adrian’s love story, does not disappoint.
As an avid follower of Temple West’s social media accounts, I could definitely tell West puts a lot of herself in her writing. She’s creative, a designer, a storyteller, and someone that wants to give the world a badass heroine worth rooting for. Yes, the main character, Caitlin, has her flaws, but what teenager doesn’t. Caitlin’s character shines more brightly when she is stubborn, ranting, and articulating her next move. Even if that next move is mending a friendship, designing her prom dress, or understanding the role she plays in the paranormal world she is currently accepting as reality. Caitlin is a “think-before-I-act” type of person, which makes me love her even more.
I like West’s writing, because she writes with a rhythm that allows you to get lost in her words and world-building. In Cashmere, she puts you in the characters’ heads, and you get the grit, the raw emotions, and even the messed up dreams that might characterize your subconscious as a Star Trek character (HAHAHA). I do not know how West does it, but she can take the most scary and uncomfortable scenes and add a dash of silliness that equates into the most powerful and memorable chapter.
In Cashmere, West brings back a lot of familiar characters from Velvet, but she also introduces some new characters. Kalare is definitely my new favorite character. Kalare adds so much sass and smarts to each scene she is in. This girl can rock a leather jacket, a designer dress, and some hilarious sarcasm.
The main rant I have about the book is that I thought some of the chapters could have been condensed. Some scenes, close to the end of the book, run too long for my comfort. I love when action, even if it is the characters plotting their next move, carries the flow of the story. However, sometimes I found the story stuck and I wanted to skip to the next chapter (I might just be a little impatient, hahaha). Overall, I really enjoyed Cashmere and the unique vampire twist West has given her series. Now I need book three!
NOTE: Thank you to Temple West for providing me an e-ARC of Cashmere. I was not asked to write or promote a review of the book. To see my original post as a host for the Cashmere blog tour, in which I shared an excerpt and my favorite quotes, go HERE. All statements and opinions stated in this post are my own.
W…W…W…Wednesday is hosted by Taking on a World of Words and includes Three Ws: