Blog Tour : Review of White Stag by Kara Barbieri

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Title:
White Stag
Author: Kara Barbieri
Published by: Wednesday Books
Publication date: January 8th 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy

Synopsis:

The first book in a brutally stunning series where a young girl finds herself becoming more monster than human and must uncover dangerous truths about who she is and the place that has become her home.

As the last child in a family of daughters, seventeen-year-old Janneke was raised to be the male heir. While her sisters were becoming wives and mothers, she was taught to hunt, track, and fight. On the day her village was burned to the ground, Janneke—as the only survivor—was taken captive by the malicious Lydian and eventually sent to work for his nephew Soren.

Janneke’s survival in the court of merciless monsters has come at the cost of her connection to the human world. And when the Goblin King’s death ignites an ancient hunt for the next king, Soren senses an opportunity for her to finally fully accept the ways of the brutal Permafrost. But every action he takes to bring her deeper into his world only shows him that a little humanity isn’t bad—especially when it comes to those you care about.

Through every battle they survive, Janneke’s loyalty to Soren deepens. After dangerous truths are revealed, Janneke must choose between holding on or letting go of her last connections to a world she no longer belongs to. She must make the right choice to save the only thing keeping both worlds from crumbling.

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• • • REVIEW • • •

As a goblin-infested novel, White Stag is filled with chilling thrills and the gruesome politics of the goblin world. As a human living in the goblin realm (Permafrost) for over 100 years, the main character, Janneke, is hardened by the brutality she encounters in this cruel world. Janneke is always in a fight instead of flight mode in order to survive the monstrous acts of the powerful goblins that surround her. 

At the beginning of the book, the pacing of White Stag was very choppy and abrupt, but once Janneke joins the White Stag hunt, I was ingrained in her mindset to fight, survive, and escape. The reader is often thrown into Janneke’s memories and flashbacks of being tortured, mutilated, and raped, which triggers unsettling emotions and fear, so be aware that this novel may be upsetting, triggering, and too graphic for some audiences.

Overall, White Stag is a very unique fantasy that brings a new story to goblin lore. As imagined in one of my favorite goblin-narrative poems “Goblin Market” by Christina Rossetti, goblins are also brutal creatures in White Stag. But through Janneke’s experiences, she notices that humans can be monsters too. Beyond the abrupt flashbacks that provide Janneke’s distressing backstory, the novel is littered with action-packed fight scenes and the hint of a possible lovestory brewing. 

about the author

kara barbieri
Author Bio:

Kara Barbieri is a writer living in the tiny town of Hayward, Wisconsin. An avid fantasy fan, she began writing White Stag at eighteen and posting it to Wattpad soon after under the name of ‘Pandean’. When she’s not writing, you can find her marathoning Buffy the Vampire Slayer, reviving gothic fashion, and jamming to synthpop.

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Blog Tour & Giveaway: Review of Match Me If You Can by Tiana Smith

Title: Match Me If You Can
Author: Tiana Smith
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: January 8th 2019
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult

Synopsis:

Mia’s best friend Robyn is known for her matchmaking skills, which is perfect, because homecoming is just around the corner. But Robyn refuses to set Mia up with the guy of her dreams, which forces Mia to take matters into her own hands. She uses Robyn’s matchmaking service to make sure popular Vince Demetrius falls for her.

Vince asks her out, but Mia doesn’t count on Logan, the persistent school newspaper photographer who seems to like her out of the blue. Now she has to choose between Vince – the guy she knows is right for her – and Logan, who insists that she give him a chance. And she needs to make sure Robyn doesn’t find out that Mia’s been matchmaking behind her back.

Mia has two weeks before homecoming. Can she fix the mess she made or will she have to kiss her perfect match goodbye forever?

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REVIEW

Match Me If You Can is a drama-filled pageturner. This romantic, fast-paced story is driven by a pure drama-llama high schooler by the name of Mia. Mia is a good student and a cautious person, but when it comes to crushes and finding the “perfect” homecoming date, Mia makes some life-changing decisions that creates a pile-up of white lies and messy hearts.

I found Match Me if You Can to be very reminiscent of 90s romance movies, so obviously I couldn’t stop turning the page to see how the story ends. And once the main character starts creating a mess of her love and social life, friendships start to falter, emotions become tangled, and Mia begins questioning her feelings between two guys. I thought the frenzy that Mia causes would sway me away from the story, but actually I was enamored by her narrative and finding out how everything would unfold. 

If you are a fan of goofy guys, dating shenanigans, and 90s romcoms, I highly recommend that you read Match Me if You Can. And for more reasons on why you should read this book, check out my moodboard below, which was inspired by some of the book’s most swooniest moments. 

Rants and Raves of a Bibliophile (2)

about the author


Author Bio:

Tiana Smith is a copywriter turned novelist who grew up in the Wild West of Montana. When she isn’t writing, she’s chasing after her ninja boy, reading, or binging the Disney Channel. She’d love to be fluent in sign language, but for now she gets by with awkward hand gestures and even more awkward French. She has double degrees in Honors and English from Westminster College but wants to go back to school to be a lion tamer.

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Blog Tour: Raves & Craves of Anna and the Apocalypse by Katharine Turner and Barry Waldo

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Title:
 Anna and the Apocalypse
Author:  Katharine Turner and Barry Waldo
Publisher: Imprint
Release Date: October 23, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Horror, Humor, Science Fiction

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Synopsis:

School’s out for the end of the world.

Anna and the Apocalypse is a horror comedy about a teenager who faces down a zombie apocalypse with a little help from her friends.

Anna Shepherd is a straight-A student with a lot going on under the surface: she’s struggling with her mom’s death, total friend drama, and the fallout from wasting her time on a very attractive boy. She’s looking forward to skipping town after graduation–but then a zombie apocalypse majorly disrupts the holidays season. It’s going to be very hard to graduate high school without a brain.

To save the day, Anna, her friends, and her frenemies will have to journey straight to the heart of one of the most dangerous places ever known, a place famous for its horror, terror, and pain…high school.

This novel is inspired by the musical feature film, Anna and the Apocalypse.


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Anna and the Apocalypse is a quick-paced story about a teenager named Anna whose whole world is turned upside down when a zombie apocalypse occurs just a few days before Christmas. Throughout the story, Anna’s sarcastic and dark sense humor provides laugh out loud moments as she and her friends kill zombies and try to stay alive. Mix in the angst of teenage drama with horror of the walking dead and TADA, you have Anna and the Apocalypse

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Peppermint Hot Cocoa

And what pairs well with a zombie apocalypse book set during Christmas? Of course, a nice cup of hot cocoa!

Ingredients:

  • Water or Milk (you choose)
  • Hot Cocoa Mix
  • Peppermint Extract or Syrup

Instructions:
Be sure to follow the instructions on your hot cocoa packet/tin. I always warm up my water in the microwave. Stir the cocoa mix into the hot water. Next, I add a few small drops of peppermint extract. And don’t hold back on topping your cocoa with whipped cream, marshmallows, or candy cane pieces. Enjoy!

Note: Thank you to Fierce Reads for providing me a final copy of this book to read and review for free in exchange of an honest review. All statements and opinions are my own. 

Blog Tour & Giveaway: Review & Favorite Quotes of Escaping from Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco

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Title:
 Escaping from Houdini (Stalking Jack the Ripper #3)

Author:  Kerri Maniscalco
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson Books
Release Date: September 18, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Mystery

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Synopsis:

In this third installment in the #1 bestselling Stalking Jack the Ripper series, a luxurious ocean liner becomes a floating prison of scandal, madness, and horror when passengers are murdered one by one…with nowhere to run from the killer.

Audrey Rose Wadsworth and her partner-in-crime-investigation, Thomas Cresswell, are en route to New York to help solve another blood-soaked mystery. Embarking on a week-long voyage across the Atlantic on the opulent RMS Etruria, they’re delighted to discover a traveling troupe of circus performers, fortune tellers, and a certain charismatic young escape artist entertaining the first-class passengers nightly.

But then, privileged young women begin to go missing without explanation, and a series of brutal slayings shocks the entire ship. The strange and disturbing influence of the Moonlight Carnival pervades the decks as the murders grow ever more freakish, with nowhere to escape except the unforgiving sea. It’s up to Audrey Rose and Thomas to piece together the gruesome investigation as even more passengers die before reaching their destination. But with clues to the next victim pointing to someone she loves, can Audrey Rose unravel the mystery before the killer’s horrifying finale?


review and quotes

Once again, Kerri Maniscalco has astounded me with her storytelling. I cannot and will never get enough of Audrey Rose Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell. I love the chemistry between these two characters, their banter, and how Thomas, truly a Victorian gentleman, always treats Audrey Rose with respect and as an equal. They are my ultimate OTP. Now in Escaping from Houdini, things are shaken up between these two and I’m not going to say I was the hugest fan in riding those waves, but when these two characters are on the same page with each other, their partnership is outstanding. 

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I love that Escaping from Houdini stays true to the first two books and portrays feminism in the best light. As the main female lead, Audrey Rose Wadsworth is witty, sassy, and so intelligent. She defies many characteristics of a stereotypical Victorian woman, and instead is a proto-feminist of the era. I love that she is deep into solving mysteries and murder with science and rational deduction. She wants to know the truth and how things tick, and she is not afraid to dig deeper into danger to find her answers. 
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Overall, the setting of this novel made the mysterious story even more intriguing. I was captivated by the details of Victorian fashion and mannerisms, as well as the illusions and magic of the traveling carnival performers and entertainers on board a ship. Mix in history, quirky banter, the sleuthing of Sherlock Holmes, the atmospheric allurement found in Caraval, and you have Escaping from Houdini delivering on all levels of entertainment, education, fascination, and mystery.
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4 star rating
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about the author

Kerri Maniscalco grew up in a semi-haunted house outside NYC where her fascination with gothic settings began. In her spare time she reads everything she can get her hands on, cooks all kinds of food with her family and friends, and drinks entirely too much tea while discussing life’s finer points with her cats.

Her first novel in this series, Stalking Jack the Ripper, debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. It incorporates her love of forensic science and unsolved history.

 
Note: Thank you to the The Fantastic Flying Book Club for having me on this blog tour. And a huge thank you to Jimmy Patterson Books for providing me an ARC to read and review for free in exchange for an honest review. All statements and opinions are my own. Please note that all quoted material are not final and may change in the final publication of the book.

Blog Tour & Giveaway: Review of Keeper of the Bees by Meg Kassel

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Title:
Keeper of the Bees
Author: Meg Kassel
Genre: YA Paranormal
Release Date: September 4th 2018
Publisher: Entangled Teen

Summary:

Beauty and the beast like you’ve never imagined!” —New York Times bestselling author Pintip Dunn

KEEPER OF THE BEES is a tale of two teens who are both beautiful and beastly, and whose pasts are entangled in surprising and heartbreaking ways.
Dresden is cursed. His chest houses a hive of bees that he can’t stop from stinging people with psychosis-inducing venom. His face is a shifting montage of all the people who have died because of those stings. And he has been this way for centuries—since he was eighteen and magic flowed through his homeland, corrupting its people.

He follows harbingers of death, so at least his curse only affects those about to die anyway. But when he arrives in a Midwest town marked for death, he encounters Essie, a seventeen-year-old girl who suffers from debilitating delusions and hallucinations. His bees want to sting her on sight. But Essie doesn’t see a monster when she looks at Dresden.

Essie is fascinated and delighted by his changing features. Risking his own life, he holds back his bees and spares her. What starts out as a simple act of mercy ends up unraveling Dresden’s solitary life and Essie’s tormented one. Their impossible romance might even be powerful enough to unravel a centuries-old curse.

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Purchase Links: Entangled Teen

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My Rants and Raves Keeper of the Bees

**please note that this review may contain spoilers**

There’s something dark and eerie about Meg Kassal’s storytelling, and when it comes to her atmospheric companion novel Keeper of the Bees, Kassal does not disappoint in giving her readers the creeps and the chills. Paralleling the the same fantasy world of her first novel Black Birds of the Gallows, Keeper of the Bees focuses on a beekeeper, Dresden, along with other paranormal beings like the harbingers.

At the very beginning of the novel, Dresden’s cursed life is shifted and it is all because of Essie, a human who chews peppercorns to stop hallucinations and delusions. But the sudden burst of pepper, does not halt this teenager from seeing Dresden for what he really is: a creature that wears the many faces of his victims that have gone mad and died due to his venomous stings.

I really enjoyed the banter and conversations that are ping-ponged back and forth between these two unusual characters, Essie and Dresden. While one thinks he is a monster, a beastly being, the other finds him “pretty” but doubts herself because she suffers from a family curse which is treated like a mental illness. There is an instant bond between these two characters. It starts with fascination, turns into friendship, and develops into romance. 

Keeper of the Bees is also a very fascinating read because Kassel creates her own legends and fantastical foundation. This book reflects some similar characteristics of traditional young adult paranormal books, but Kassal also gives a unique take on her own monsters and myths. I honestly love that her beastly characters heighten my sense of wonder but they are also so freaking creepy.  

If you are fond of books with a bit of mystery, myth, romance, paranormal elements, and a hint of horror, Keeper of the Bees is the right book to add to your TBR. The story is well-paced and I liked that the characters are challenged to face their own personal demons and actual monsters of the world.

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About the Author

Meg Kassel is an author of fantasy and speculative books for young adults. A graduate of Parson’s School of Design, she’s been creating stories, whether with visuals or words, since childhood. Meg is a New Jersey native who lives in a log house in the Maine woods with her husband and daughter. As a fan of ’80s cartoons, Netflix series, and ancient mythology, she has always been fascinated and inspired by the fantastic, the creepy, and the futuristic. She is the 2016 RWA Golden Heart® winner in YA and a double 2018 RITA® finalist for her debut novel, Black Bird of the Gallows.

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Blog Tour & Giveaway: Review of To Be Honest by Maggie Ann Martin

Title: To Be Honest
Author: Maggie Ann Martin
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: August 21st 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult

Synopsis:
Savannah is dreading being home alone with her overbearing mother after her sister goes off to college. But if she can just get through senior year, she’ll be able to escape to college, too. What she doesn’t count on is that her mother’s obsession with weight has only grown deeper since her appearance on an extreme weight-loss show, and now Savvy’s mom is pressuring her even harder to be constantly mindful of what she eats.

Between her mom’s diet-helicoptering, missing her sister, and worrying about her collegiate future, Savvy has enough to worry about. And then she meets George, the cute new kid at school who has insecurities of his own. As Savvy and George grow closer, they help each other discover how to live in the moment and enjoy the here and now before it disappears.

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My Rants and Raves of To Be Honest

To Be Honest is such a feel good read that I could not put down. I wish I could tell my teenage self: “in 2018 there will be books you can relate to. They are fat positive and realistic and swoony as hell.”

In To Be Honest, I adored the main character Savannah. She is fat and healthy and proud of all her successes. Yes, she is apprehensive about big life changes and possibly dating, but this young adult rocks at math, journalism, and being an amazing friend, sister, and daughter. I loved that Savannah is bold and funny; I love that she is determined and 95% of the time says what is on her mind. 

One of my favorite parts of this novel is that the book focuses on Savannah’s internal thoughts and doesn’t sugarcoat her flaws and struggles. Instead, we are there for every verbal fight with her diet-obsessed mom, every tear-stained mascara mark, every sloppy kiss from a handsome poodle, and every laugh between half pepperoni half pineapple pizza-loving friends. I adored this book so much; every page was like a comforting hug of support and love.

If you are fan of realistic high school stories, tulle skirts, and watching young love struggle to ignite, definitely give To Be Honest a read. I loved the story and the characters and of course the white poodle named Fiyero.

4 star rating

to be honest mood board

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Author Bio:

Maggie Ann Martin hails from Iowa City, Iowa but moonlights as a New Yorker. She has a shiny new BA in English and Journalism from the University of Iowa, the most welcoming literary community in the world. When she is not writing, you can find her binge watching TV shows or passionately fangirling over fictional characters on the Internet. The Big F is her debut novel.

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Blog Tour & Giveaway: Review of Airports, Exes, and Other Things I’m Over

Title: Airports, Exes, and Other Things I’m Over
Author: Shani Petroff
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: May 15th 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult

Synopsis:

A bad storm, two canceled flights, stuck in an airport with a hot stranger and the guy who broke her heart… what could go wrong?

After Sari caught her boyfriend Zev cheating on her, their romantic Florida vacation was ruined. She can’t get back to NYC soon enough. Unfortunately, mother nature may have different plans. A huge storm is brewing in the Northeast, and flights all over the country are getting canceled—including Sari’s. She winds up stuck at the airport for hours. With Zev!

When another stranded passenger (a hot NYU guy) suggests a connecting flight to Boston, Sari jumps at the chance. But when her mom freaks out about her traveling alone, she has no choice—she has to include Zev, and somehow survive being trapped with the guy who broke her heart!

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Wow! I found this book to be a super quick and engaging read. Even though Airports, Exes, and Other Things I’m Over spans over a week, Sari and Zev’s story definitely encompasses so much to unravel. And you know that saying, “when it rains it pours”? Well, when it came to Sari’s spring break and her one shot to sing at a local club, anything and everything seems to go wrong in the span of a few days. 

One of my favorite characters in the book was Zev. I loved that his goal was to explain any misconstrued situation, so Sari knew the facts and the truth. Sari tended to overthink everything and failed to see that there are several sides to a story. It’s smart for Sari to protect herself first, but I knew there were some holes in her observations. Throughout the story, Zev is always trying to open communication between him and Sari, and it’s so adorable how he always tries to make sure that she is okay and comfortable. I liked that Zev gave Sari room to think and breathe when anything dramatic blew up, but he was also determined to fight for the truth, their friendship, and ultimately love. 

The plot of Airports, Exes, and Other Things I’m Over relies heavily on lack of communication and misunderstood situations. I’m not a huge fan of books that have so much “lack of communication,” but this plot devise definitely keeps the reader on the edge of their seat. If you love A LOT  of drama in your stories, which definitely keeps the story rolling, give Airports, Exes, and Other Things I’m Over a try. This book is such a fast read and the ending is so swoony. 

3 star rating

about the author

Author Bio:

Shani Petroff is a writer living in New York City. She’s the author of the “Bedeviled” series, which includes Daddy’s Little Angel, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Dress, Careful What You Wish For, and Love Struck, and is the co-author of the “Destined” series which includes Ash and Ultraviolet. She also writes for television news programs and several other venues. When she’s not locked in her apartment typing away, she spends a whole lot of time on books, boys, TV, daydreaming, and shopping online.

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