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.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble  / Book Depository


• • • 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.

Website / Goodreads / Twitter

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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?

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo


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.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

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Book Review: Warrior of the Wild by Tricia Levenseller 

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Title:
 Warrior of the Wild

Author: Tricia Levenseller 
Publisher:  Feiwel & Friends
Release Date: February 26, 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy

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Synopsis:

How do you kill a god?

As her father’s chosen heir, eighteen-year-old Rasmira has trained her whole life to become a warrior and lead her village. But when her coming-of-age trial is sabotaged and she fails the test, her father banishes her to the monster-filled wilderness with an impossible quest: to win back her honour, she must kill the oppressive god who claims tribute from the villages each year or die trying.


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It saddens me that I did not love Warrior of the Wild as much as I hoped. I had very high expectations for this book because I loved the humor, smart wit, and female empowerment of the author’s first action-packed series, a pirate-themed duology called Daughter of the Pirate King. However, even though I know many readers will enjoy Warrior of the Wild, I personally found the character development very static and the story predictable at times.

In regards to the main character, I had a really hard time connecting with Rasmira because she stays very guarded and stasis throughout her journey in the book. She is very determined and goal-oriented, but I felt like she lacked the capabilities to learn and mature. It’s at the very end of the book that she finally opens up and allows herself to accept change, new friendships, and experiences. 

As for the predictability of the storyline, there were a few twists in the book and some epiphany scientific discoveries. But overall I seemed to pick up on the betrayals and surprises before they occurred, which unfortunately stilled the story for me. 

Although this book did not work for me, I can definitely see it being an amazing read for people who love slow-burn romances and Vikings. The main character Rasmira is a female warrior who physically guards herself and her emotions very well. She wants to make her father and her village proud. She is fierce and determined, which are not favorable attributes with her male peers so she makes enemies really quick. In the beginning, Rasmira has her life carefully planned out, but after experiencing betrayal on multiple fronts and then banishment, her main goals are survival and killing a god. 

Warrior of the Wild is a very well-written book sprinkled with action-packed scenes and complex friendships. Add in some ax fighting  with a dash of romance and you have a recipe for an engaging Viking-inspired novel.

1 star rating

Note: Thank you to Macmillan/Fierce Reads for providing me an e-arc of this book to read and review. I was not compensated for this review. All statements and opinions in this review are mine.

If It’s Not a Rant, It’s a Rave: Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell

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Title:
 Kindred Spirits
Author:  Rainbow Rowell
Publisher: St. Martin’s Giffin
Release Date: April 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary

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Synopsis:

‘Everybody likes everything these days. The whole world is a nerd.’
‘Are you mad because other people like Star Wars? Are you mad because people like me like Star Wars?’
‘Maybe.’

If you broke Elena’s heart, Star Wars would spill out. So when she decides to queue outside her local cinema to see the new movie, she’s expecting a celebration with crowds of people who love Han, Luke and Leia just as much as she does.

What she’s not expecting is to be last in a line of only three people; to have to pee into a collectible Star Wars soda cup behind a dumpster or to meet that unlikely someone who just might truly understand the way she feels.

Kindred Spirits is an engaging short story by Rainbow Rowell, author of the bestselling Eleanor & ParkFangirl and Carry OnKindred Spirits has been specially produced for World Book Day.


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If you’re in the mood for a cute and quick contemporary read, I highly recommend Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell. In this short story, I love that Star Wars is the main incentive that brings all of these characters together. I found the story to be so sweet and the characters very realistic. Rainbow has a very unique way of allowing her characters and side characters to shine brightly on the page with smart and witty banter. And if you’re a fan of Star Wars, like me, you will laugh along with the nerdy references and jokes that play between these characters.

Because the story is extremely short, I don’t want to give too much away. But I must say even though each characters’ secrets and flaws unravel throughout the pages, the friendships that develop in this story are cute and memorable.

4 star rating
Note: I received this book as a “freebie” on World Book Day from my local independent bookstore.  All statements and opinions are my own. 

Book Review: Famous In A Small Town by Emma Mills

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Title:
 Famous in A Small Town

Author: Emma Mills
Publisher:  Henry Holt
Release Date: January 15, 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

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Synopsis:

For Sophie, small-town life has never felt small. She has the Yum Yum Shoppe, with its famous fourteen flavors of ice cream; her beloved marching band, the pride and joy of Acadia High (even if the football team disagrees); and her four best friends, loving and infuriating, wonderfully weird and all she could ever ask for. 

Then August moves in next door. A quiet guy with a magnetic smile, August seems determined to keep everyone at arm’s length. Sophie in particular. 

Country stars, revenge plots, and a few fake kisses (along with some excellent real ones) await Sophie in this hilarious, heartfelt story.


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I’m not much for country music, but the small-town feel of Famous In A Small Town by Emma Mills won me over. If I could count how many times I laughed out loud on my fingers, I would need more fingers. But even though I found myself laughing throughout the story, I did find this book to have a more serious tone than past Emma Mills’ books that I enjoyed.

I love the friendships that Emma creates in her books, and Famous In a Small Town has A LOT of them…A LOT! The numerous amount of friends in this book overwhelmed me at first, but that did not falter me from staying focused on the story at hand. I had a hard time relating to the main character (Sophie) and her friends and family, but this doesn’t mean that other readers won’t connect to her. Sophie’s story broke my heart and then carefully pieced it back together with love, laughter, and macaroni and cheese (the good kind, that you make on the stove, not that gross kind that you make in the microwave). 

If you are already an Emma Mills fanatic, and even if you are not, this book will make your heart ache like a country song that you tell everyone that you hate, but you actually might love because it’s so damn catchy! Plus there are some swoons! I love me some good “Emma Mills” swoons!

3 star rating

Note: Thank you to Henry Holt and Fierce Reads for providing me an early copy of this book to read and review. I was not compensated for this review. All statements and opinions in this review are mine.

Book Review: Snow in Love

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Title:
 Snow in Love

Author: Melissa de la Cruz, Nic Stone, Aimee Friedman, and Kasie West
Publisher:  Point
Release Date: October 30, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Short Stories, Anthology, Holiday

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Synopsis:

What’s better than one deliciously cozy, swoon-worthy holiday story? Four of them, from some of today’s bestselling authors.

From KASIE WEST, a snowy road trip takes an unexpected detour when secrets and crushes are revealed.

From AIMEE FRIEDMAN, a Hanukkah miracle may just happen when a Jewish girl working as a department store elf finds love.

From MELISSA DE LA CRUZ, Christmas Eve gets a plot twist when a high school couple exchange surprising presents.

From NIC STONE, a scavenger hunt amid the holiday crowds at an airport turns totally romantic.

So grab a mug of hot cocoa, snuggle up, and get ready to fall in love…


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Snow in Love is the perfect collection of stories to read during this time of year. If you are in the mood for some quick swoony, holiday reads, I highly recommend you pick up this anthology during December. Each of the four stories will give you warm and holiday feels, but overall my favorite story was Kasie West’s “Snow and Mistletoe.” 

“Snow and Mistletoe” by Kasie West ★★★★★

I don’t know if this story could get any cuter. It has swoons, car games, crushes, banter, deep and growing friendships, and the most perfect holiday ending. If West ever decides to write a novel on these characters, I would read it in a heartbeat.

Working in A Winter Wonderland” by Aimee Friedman ★★

The main character (Maxine) drove me up the wall. She was so negative and a downer throughout the whole story. The ending is sweet, but that’s only because a fellow co-worker is adorable and a true romantic. 

The Magi’s Gifts” by Melissa De La Cruz ★★

This story is a holiday “retelling” and very predictable. It’s cute but the ending is mildly irritating. 

“Grounded” by Nic Stone ★★★

This was my second favorite story in the anthology. The two main characters are adorable, and I love that they take the negativity of being snowed in at a airport to a creative level. Their “I Spy and Hide-and-Seek” adventure mends old memories and unites an old friendship. Plus, I love that both characters are so down-to-earth, honest, and realistic. 

3 star rating

Note: I was not provided a copy of this book by the author or the publisher in exchange for a review. I bought this book with my own funds and reviewed it at my own discretion.  All statements and opinions in this review are mine.

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

7

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.