Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Review: Stones and Finger Bones by Jessica Minyard * Xpresso Book Tours*

Stones and Finger Bones by Jessica Minyard  
(The Black Towers #1)  
Publication date: February 10th 2015 
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

Aurelia Barone, Jewel of Starry Stone, harbors no illusions about the purpose of her life as heir to the throne. But after two failed betrothals, she starts to feel like nothing more than a pawn being moved aimlessly about a game board.
Until the night she loses everything.
Kidnapped by a wise-cracking mercenary with more than one identity, Aurelia embarks on a mission across land and sea to avenge her father’s death.
But an evil is rising from the ashes of memory. Insidious magic is stirring. The dregs of a once-powerful nation are thirsty for blood and revenge.
They seek to harness Aurelia. To tempt her. To manipulate her.
And if necessary, to destroy her. 

My Thoughts

Wow this was such a pleasant surprise. I saw the blurb and had to jump on board!! I am such a sucker for court politics and  magic and I was not disappointed in the least!!

This book started off a bit slow in the beginning but then once it took off I was able to see this captivating world that was created. There was bits of magic and twists and turns galore. The setting was definitely a favorite part of mine as I felt the world building was definitely one of the stronger points of the writing.

Another part of this book was the fact that the characters while fiction, seemed incredibly life like. They are had a certain shade in grey in terms of good vs. evil and I think that just add so many layers to the characterizations. It also makes for a much more believable story since let's face the is very few true good and true evil in the world. It always seems to be bit of both. There was an alternating narrative with a clever use of ancient diary to fill in the missing history and plot points. Even thought there was a lot of changing of perspective it still felt like a very subtle transition for me which was great since it didn't pull me out of the story once!

I am so very lucky to have been part of this tour! I would be remiss had I missed out on this unique title. I cannot wait to see more of Aurelia and if there are any upcoming books! If you are a lover of fantasy and just a strong plot this one will suit you!

4 Snowflakes



Amazon: --




About the Author

Jessica wrote and illustrated her first story in the fourth grade. “The Dragon of Grindley Grun” was about an evil wizard, a princess, and a dragon who was actually a prince. She likes to think her writing has evolved since that very first story, even though she still writes about magic and evil wizards...sometimes.
She likes to sing loudly and dance on occasion without being particularly talented at either. Her interests include reading, writing, procrastinating, animal advocacy, musicals, accessories, memes, Harry Potter, and sweet tea.
Jessica lives in Kentucky with a spoiled pitbull.

Author links:


Tour-wide giveaway --
A signed paperback of Stones and Finger Bones and 4 prints of hand painted, original character portraits.  - ends April 9th

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule:
Week One:3/16/2015- Moonlight Gleam ReviewsInterview3/17/2015- Seeing Double In NeverlandReview3/18/2015- YA BibliophileGuest Post3/19/2015- Owl Always Be ReadingReview3/20/2015- Library of a Book WitchInterview
Week Two:3/23/2015- Gone with the WordsReview3/24/2015- Bookhounds yaGuest Post3/25/2015- YA Series Insiders- Interview3/26/2015-Winterhaven BooksReview3/27/2015- Two Chicks on BooksGuest Post

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday - Queen of Shadows by Sarah j. Maas

Welcome to Waiting On Wednesday here at

 Winterhaven Books!

This is a feature created by Jill at Breaking The Spine where we share some books we are anxiously awaiting.

This week's pick...

Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4) 
by Sarah J. Maas 

Expected publication: September 1st 2015 
by Bloomsbury USA Childrens

Sarah J. Maas's New York Times bestselling Throne of Glass series reaches new heights in this sweeping fourth volume.

 Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she's at last returned to the empire—for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past . . . She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die just to see her again. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and awaiting their lost queen's triumphant return. Celaena’s epic journey has captured the hearts and imaginations of millions across the globe. This fourth volume will hold readers rapt as Celaena’s story builds to a passionate, agonizing crescendo that might just shatter her world.


Kidding! If you know me then you know my absolute unrequited love for this series since forever and a day! If I could only read one book the rest of my days, it would be one of these. I tear up everytime I read this through. I can't wait to see the heights our girl Celaena will go through to save those she loves. It is time for sweet sweet vengeance, if that is at all possible. There is so much up in the air at the moment, so many lives hanging in the balance. All I can say is September feels so very far away!

Teaser Tuesday #91 Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Welcome to Teaser Tuesdays! Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of A Daily Rhythm.  Anyone can play along! Just do the following: Grab your current read Open to a random page Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!) Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! My Teaser Tuesday is for the following...

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1)
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Publication Date: May 7, 2013

In a land without magic, where the king rules with an iron hand, an assassin is summoned to the castle. She comes not to kill the king, but to win her freedom. If she defeats twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition, she is released from prison to serve as the king's champion. Her name is Celaena Sardothien. 

The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her. But something evil dwells in the castle of glass--and it's there to kill. When her competitors start dying one by one, Celaena's fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival, and a desperate quest to root out the evil before it destroys her world.

Teaser from page 226

"Fingernail marks. He was desperate to get away--to drag himself by his fingertips, if necessary.He was alive the entire time that thing sharpened its claws on the stone while its master watched."

Teaser from page 227

He slid into the seat beside her, his leg brushed hers. "Is there a connection between all of these?"
"No." It wasn't quite a lie--though she had hoped for all of them to contain something about Wyrdmarks, or what they meant beside a corpse.

*PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT with either the link to your own Teaser Tuesdays post, or share your ‘teasers’ in a comment here if you don’t have a blog Thanks! 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Review: In a World Just Right by Jen Brooks

In a World Just Right by Jen Brooks
Release Date: April 28, 2015
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Review Copy from Edelweiss

High school senior Jonathan Aubrey creates worlds at will. In Kylie-Simms-is-my-girlfriend, he’s given himself everything he doesn’t have in real life-–the track team, passing grades, and his dream girl–-until one day he confuses his worlds and almost kisses the real Kylie Simms. Now his girlfriend Kylie and the real Kylie are changing, and Jonathan must solve the mystery of his own life to save his love from a gruesome fate.

My Thoughts: 

After recovering from a coma as a child, caused by a tragic accident in which Jonathan lost his mother, father and sister, he has been wanted to disappear and had dreamed about a life in a world where he is not scarred, pitied and a social outcast. Fortunately for Jonathan, since the tragic accident, he has been able to do just that. Jonathan is a world-maker, an individual who can create and inhabit alternative worlds, worlds in which he can have what he wants, what he cannot get from the real world. First, his worlds where ones in which he was the leader in missions against aliens, worlds where he was the leader and looked up to by other children. During his sophomore year, he created 'Kylie-Simms-is-my-girlfriend', a world exactly like his own in outlook, but different in ways that really matter to him – he is popular, part of the track team, on his way to college and most importantly, loved by Kylie Simms, the most beautiful girl he has ever seen.

After juggling between the alternative world and his real world for years, Jonathan makes a mistake that spirals out of control – he confuses the worlds and tries to kiss the real Kylie Simms, the Kylie that has not shown any interest towards Jonathan, the Kylie that has not even acknowledged his existence before. As a result of this mishap, the real Kylie starts to feel things that she never expected to feel and very quickly gets obsessed with Jonathan without knowing why. In Kylie-Simms-is my-girlfriend, Jonathan's fantasy world, Kylie starts to feel differently about Johathan and though she still loves him (mostly because Jonathan created her to do so), she finds it difficult to be around him. Jonathan is starting to lose control of these two worlds and the only way he can try to gain the control back is to bring the worlds and the two Kylies together.

The concept of In A World Just Right is quite different from anything I have come across before. Though these are several YA novels that play around with two different realities, I have never seen it being done quite this way and with so much detail. Jen Brooks's world building is masterfully done and the world-maker aspect of the novel is extremely well established. Though this novel can definitely be categorized as fantasy, to me it read more like a contemporary novel – the fantastical element is established so well that very quickly, I just started to accept it as reality.

What I really loved about this novel is the fact that instead of making the two realities very different, Brooks decided to portrayed them as very similar and gave me, as a reader, a chance to find the little differences between them. I feel like my role as a reader was almost like one of an investigator trying to find the little things that made these two realities different. This similarity of the worlds and the fact that Jonathan has created a world that is almost like his, inhabit by the same people than his real world, instead of a world in which he is for example rich and famous, emphasizes the fact that in order to be happy, you don't necessarily need big changes. For Jonathan, happiness means that he is not invisible and that he is loved by someone – the ingredients for happiness identified universally by the humankind. But as he creates this happiness himself, he fails to see that with a little effort, he could get the same from the real world.

I feel like usually when it comes to YA novels, I am somewhat able to figure out the twists and turns while reading towards the conclusion. This in one way means that I think all YA is predictable – it just means that as an avid reader of the genre, I have started to notice generic conventions, as a result of which I very rearly am completely surprised about the twists and turns that take place. While reading this book, I kept making predictions about what would happen, but I must admit that none of them ended up being right. Some insane things take place and most of them came to me out of the blue. Since this book is so unique in concept, I never quite new what to expect, and I say that it was really refreshing, but also kind of unnerving, to read a book that did not really fit into any of those generic conventions I usually look for while reading YA.

I always find it a bit difficult to read novels, especially YA ones, narrated entirely from the point of view of a male character. It took me a little time to get used to Jonathan's narrative voice and throughout I felt like I cannot fully trust him since it seems like he does not himself even realize the extent of his world-making powers. Since I love unrelatable narrators, I very quickly got into Jonathan's narrative voice and wanted to know more, wanted to find signs of what is actually true. Brooks excels in making Jonathan problematic, especially in relation to the way in which he treats the Kylies, but also treats him with sympathy, making sure the reader understands why Jonathan has made such decisions. As the novel processed, I started to feel for Jonathan more and more, and though I never really fell in love with him, I understood him.

Jen Brooks's prose is incredible – the voice she gives to Jonathan is intelligent and funny, and the detail she has put into this novel blew me away. Brooks writes with confidence and bravado – she's an experienced world-maker, careful in her draft, full of surprises and promise. 

4 Snowflakes

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Review: All Lined Up by Cora Carmack

All Lined Up by Cora Carmack
Release date: May 13, 2014
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Cora Carmack follows up her trio of hits—Losing It, Faking It, and Finding It—with this thrilling first novel in an explosive series bursting with the Texas flavor, edge, and steamy romance of Friday Night Lights.

In Texas, two things are cherished above all else—football and gossip. My life has always been ruled by both.

Dallas Cole loathes football. That's what happens when you spend your whole childhood coming in second to a sport. College is her time to step out of the bleachers, and put the playing field (and the players) in her past.

But life doesn't always go as planned. As if going to the same college as her football star ex wasn’t bad enough, her father, a Texas high school coaching phenom, has decided to make the jump to college ball… as the new head coach at Rusk University. Dallas finds herself in the shadows of her father and football all over again.

Carson McClain is determined to go from second-string quarterback to the starting line-up. He needs the scholarship and the future that football provides. But when a beautiful redhead literally falls into his life, his focus is more than tested. It's obliterated.

Dallas doesn't know Carson is on the team. Carson doesn't know that Dallas is his new coach's daughter.

And neither of them know how to walk away from the attraction they feel.

My Thoughts:

The moment I read the synopsis of this book making a reference to Friday Night Lights, I knew I would have to get my hands on it. FNL is one of my favorite shows and since watching it, I have been extremely interested about every possible chance given to think about that show and how much I love it, and fortunately this book brought back so many wonderful FNL memories.

NA has been one of those genres for me from which I have either completely loved the books I've read or the total opposite. I don't mind the sexual content but often I find it being used in new adult novels just for effect, meaning that the narrative of the book would not really change if they were cut away. Think of TV shows that use a lot of nudity for no effect (pretty much everything on cable) and connect that to new adult books... Yeah, I bet you can find some similarities. Also, unfortunately, it too often feels like that in order for the love interest to be swoon worthy, he also needs to be ridiculously mysterious and in worst cases, abusive. After reading All Lined Up, I am happy to say that Carmack does not take either of these routes – her steamy scenes really do have a narrative purpose and in order for the reader to fall in love with the love interest, she does not need to employ the “mysterious bad boy” tropes.

For her whole life, Dallas has traveled around Texas with her father, following him and his passion for football and she has often felt like she's second best to her father's passion for the sport – someone he just needs to bring with him, a baggage on the road he has dreamed about. When Dallas's father is appointed to be the head coach for the Rusk University football team, Dallas, rather than following her own dream to a prestigious dance school, has to follow her father, once again, and enroll for the dance program at Rusk. Right away, Dallas senses what a joke the program is – it does not challenge her and it really does not help her own the road to becoming a professional dancer. And her wish of escaping football after high school fails too, when it very quickly becomes clear to her that as the coach's daughter, all eyes are on her.

Carson, a transfer to the Rusk team, is determined to train harder than anyone else to make sure that he won't be QB2 forever. His decision to avoid all distractions and to focus on training enters a slippery slope when he meets Dallas. As they come to the realization about their connection – Dallas's being the coach's daughter and Carson being a member of the team – they realize that it might be better for them both if they do not keep on going with their budding relationship. But how can Dallas stay away from someone who makes her feel like herself? How could it possibly be bad for her to spend time with a guy who understands her and her passion for dancing, for her need to express herself through her body? And why should Carson avoid a girl that is quickly becoming his only and closest friend?

I really love Dallas as a character. She is passionate and strong, but also very confused and torn apart. Her relationship with her father is problematic, and though she tries to understand his reasoning, sometimes it is just hard for her to see what his father is trying to do and from what he thinks he's protecting her from. Having been forced to put her dreams on hold, she is aimlessly wandering around, trying to find a purpose for her existence at Rusk. What makes it so incredibly easy to like Dallas is the fact that she is so real – she's flawed, she makes mistakes, she says the wrong things, but she also learns from her mistakes and tries to avoid making them again.

Carson is nice, charming and honest. What I really appreciated about his characterization is the fact that he really is one of the good guys Рhe shows that he is willing to prove that he's worthy of Dallas's love and her trust. The encounters between him and Dallas are so real and filled with chemistry Рthe romance never feels clich̩ and makes you swoon just in the right kind of ways. Carmack is brilliant at writing funny, slightly awkward encounters and her characters are incredibly easy to fall in love with. Writing romantic scenes seems to come naturally to her and I am glad to say that the scenes involving sexy times never feel awkward or unrealistic. Finally, as a huge fan of team sports (ice hockey is my fix), I was able to instantly connect with the way Carmack describes the atmosphere of the games. Reading those scenes really made me miss hockey and count the days towards the next time I get to see a match live.

5 Snowflakes