Friday, February 26, 2016

Review: The Girl Who Fell by Shannon M. Parker

The Girl Who Fell by Shannon M. Parker
Publisher - Simon Pulse
Release Date - March 1st, 2016
Pre-order - Amazon / B&N
His obsession.
Her fall.

Zephyr is focused. Focused on leading her team to the field hockey state championship and leaving her small town for her dream school, Boston College.

But love has a way of changing things.

Enter the new boy in school: the hockey team’s starting goaltender, Alec. He’s cute, charming, and most important, Alec doesn’t judge Zephyr. He understands her fears and insecurities—he even shares them. Soon, their relationship becomes something bigger than Zephyr, something she can’t control, something she doesn’t want to control.

Zephyr swears it must be love. Because love is powerful, and overwhelming, and … terrifying?

But love shouldn’t make you abandon your dreams, or push your friends away. And love shouldn’t make you feel guilty—or worse, ashamed.

So when Zephyr finally begins to see Alec for who he really is, she knows it’s time to take back control of her life.

If she waits any longer, it may be too late.

My thoughts: 

This book has been one of my expected titles for 2016 ever since I heard about it, and now that I have read it, I want to pat myself on the back, because I PICKED GOOD. This book was definitely worth all of the excitement because it was amazing and something I feel like I've been looking for for a such a long time!

Before I get into anything else, I need to tell you that THIS BOOK HAS ICE HOCKEY PLAYERS. I am a massive ice hockey fan and think there are far too few YA contemporaries with hockey player love interests when compared to for example football players or baseball players. As a hockey lover, reading about hot hockey players was a lot of fun. But don't get me wrong, you don't have to be a hockey fan to enjoy this. It just adds a nice bonus to it.

Zephyr is all about focus. She wants to lead her field hockey team to a state championship. She wants to get into Boston College. She knows that to get through those things, she just needs to get through her senior year of high school, and then her life can truly begin in the dream college. A relationship with the new guy in school is definitely something Zephyr did not plan on getting herself into. But when she meets Alec, the goalie for the school's hockey team, she cannot resist him. Not only is Alec extremely handsome and charming, he also seems to understand Zephyr in a way no one else has ever understood her. It almost seems like Alec ALWAYS has the right words.

What first seems like an innocent crush very quickly evolves into something Zephyr has never experienced before. Zephyr feels like she is completely in love with Alec and justifies ignoring everyone and everything with that. She has never been in love before, but she is sure this is what is should feel like. But while she feels a connection towards Alec, she wonders whether feelings of love always come with feelings of fear, embarrassment and shame. Does being in love mean that she needs to give up everything she has been focused on just to keep being in love? 

The interactions between Zephyr and Alec are so intense and in some ways brought into my mind the movie Sleeping with the Enemy starring Julia Roberts. The way Alec's facade starts to crumble down as the novel processes is extremely well paced by Shannon M. Parker, and the way the relationship deepens made it impossible for me to put this book down. Though, fortunately, what Zephyr goes through is something I haven't experienced, it is so easy to understand her actions. We all have had crushes and when Alec shows up, I totally get why Zephyr makes the decisions she does. It would be so easy to be the kind of reader who thinks "BUT WHY DOES SHE DO THAT? WHY DOES SHE NOT SEE WHAT HE IS LIKE?", but really, this book sucks you in and makes you walk in the shoes of Zephyr which helps in understanding her actions.

The novel starts with an excerpt from the end of the novel which instantly builds up on the intensity and makes it very easy for you to dive into the story. Shannon M. Parker has brilliantly chosen what to reveal about the end at the beginning - she does not reveal too much, but rather just the right amount to catch the attention of the reader. Throughout, the writing is beautiful, engaging and at points, terrifying. 

Before I finish this review, I must say something about the gorgeousness that is Gregg, Zephyr's friend and the star of the hockey team. As I kept reading about it, I kept falling more and more in love with him. He is cocky and funny, but also extremely caring and has that softer side that he only shows for a selection of people. Though I am happy with the way this book ended, I definitely wouldn't object to read more about Gregg. 

The Girl Who Fell is incredibly well-paced, beautifully written and slightly terrifying tale of falling in and out of love for the first time. 

5 snowflakes

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Top Ten Tuesdays

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.
This weeks topic is..
Ten Books I Enjoyed Recently (last yearish) That Weren't My Typical Genre/Type of Book -

I don't normally read M/M books, but I adored/loved/worshipped Carry On by Rainbow Rowell and while I normally stay away from book that overly contain emails, documents, interviews and so on, I was really impressed with Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
1. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
2. Graphic Novel edition of Howl by Allen Ginsberg

I don't venture out of my reading comfort zone too much, so this one was hard. I did come up with:
1. Daughters Unto Devils by Amy Lukavics - YA Horror is new to me, and it was rather captivating.
2. Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman - I rarely pick up YA SciFi, but when I do they seem to be a hit for me, and this one was!

Honestly, I don't go beyond my normal comfort zone either. However, a book buddy of mine sent me a book from Europe and I hadn't read this author before and gave it a go! I ended up really liking it! So here is my one and only I can think of at this point...
1. Trouble by Non Pratt
(I received Tell the Wind and Fire by Sarah Rees Brennan. It's a magical thriller. I'm a big chicken, so anything with THRILLER makes me want to run with my tail between my legs! I'm going to give it a go! Can I get a High-Five!?)

Monday, February 22, 2016

Review: TITANS by Victoria Scott

TITANS by Victoria Scott
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: February 23, 2016
Amazon  B&N

From Victoria Scott, author of FIRE & FLOOD, comes a thrilling story of impossible odds.
 Ever since the Titans first appeared in her Detroit neighborhood, Astrid Sullivan’s world has revolved around the mechanical horses. She and her best friend have spent countless hours watching them and their jockeys practice on the track. It’s not just the thrill of the race. It’s the engineering of the horses and the way they’re programmed to seem so lifelike. The Titans are everything that fascinates Astrid, and nothing she’ll ever touch. She hates them a little, too. Her dad lost everything betting on the Titans. And the races are a reminder of the gap between the rich jockeys who can afford the expensive machines to ride, and the working class friends and neighbors of Astrid’s who wager on them. But when Astrid’s offered a chance to enter an early model Titan in this year’s derby, well, she decides to risk it all. Because for a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, it’s more than a chance at fame or money. Betting on herself is the only way she can see to hang on to everyone in the world she cares about.

My Thoughts:

 First off...that cover! I'm loving the electric blue and black. And let me start off by saying that Titans would be a perfect Scholastic Book Fair book. You remember the days when your Scholastic book order forms came home with you from school, right? You milled through the selection hoping one book spoke to you and you begged your parents to let you get it. You promised you'd read it, unlike some of the others you'd ordered and ended up collecting dust or were sold in a garage sale. This is the book you want to read, love, share with your friends, and tell them to get their own copy because it is a keeper. Honestly.

Titans isn't just about racing robotic horses. There are many situations readers will relate to and that's a huge part of why I love this book. Astrid (the protagonist) is a relateable character. She's from a blue-collar middle class family trying to make it one pay check at a time, that is until her father looses his job. Gambling addictions have altered these characters lives and the way they view the world and the people around them. She has her best friend Magnolia, who, despite her families financial issues, finds an outlet to help her family with her creative talents. She's bubbly, and maybe a little outspoken, but she has drive and proves to be a great friend to Astrid.

Astrid resents the situation her father's gambling put her and her family into. Her older sister is in a relationship with a guy who is a controlling jerk. Astrids world is collapsing around her and her family seems to be falling apart at the seams.  It isn't until an opportunity presents itself that Astrid has hope to change her families future.

Astrid is so likeable. She has a heart, she holds the weight of everyone's burdens on her shoulders, she's determined to find a way to a better life for her, and her family.  Rags and his friend Barney offer her an opportunity of a lifetime: to ride a Titan. And since Magnolia and Astrid's fathers are out of work and the pressures of eviction lay at the forefront of their minds, she agrees to train and ride the Titan. In order for her to enter the races, Astrid needs financial backing. It's not cheap. Then enters Lottie, whom I absolutely loved by the way! She may be the financial assistance Astrid needed, but Lottie taught Astrid and Magnolia about becoming better in many ways, but also staying true to themselves and setting goals, staying strong, and defying the odds.

  "Strength is forgetting everything I've taught you and becoming a machine. It's reaching inside yourself and finding you are not someone to be toyed with. It's taking every doubt you have and crushing it beneath your heel. 
  "You, Astrid Sullivan, are an Oleander--beautiful, graceful, intoxicating. 
  "May God have mercy on the person who touches you, and brings their fingers to their lips." (This is just a glimpse of the quote that made my heart skip a beat. Lottie is an amazing mentor and taught very valuable lessons to Astrid and Magnolia.)

Astrid had many road blocks along the way. But she leaned on her friend and trusted in those who believed in her the most. It broke my heart that her father wasn't the man she needed him to be. She sought after his approval and loving arms only to be denied and mocked. I actually couldn't stand her father. He made my blood boil. Here's a quote that made me angry and broke my heart. As much as Astrid wants to win, and as angry as her dad is at her, what he says out loud pierced a hole in my heart for her.

"I've been going to those races since I was thirteen years old. And now I'm riding them. I'm doing well, and I can do even better." I suck in a deep breath. "I can win, Daddy."

My dad does the worst thing he could--he laughs. He laughs, but his eyes brim with sadness as he glares at Rags. "She can't win. You know it, and I know it. She'll only get hurt."

And let's talk about that infamous Titan, Padlock. This robotic creature grew on me and I adored it. Astrid's relationship with her Titan was slow building. Realistically, she saw it as a machine, not a real animal that feels emotion. And along their journey Astrid opens her heart up to Padlock and allows herself to trust and care for him. There were some cute moments between the two.

In the final stretch, you really understand just how amazing Astrid is, and how big her heart is. A memorable character is one who stands out. It could be something you relate to, or even could be on the complete opposite end of the spectrum. Either way, you just don't forget about them for quite some time. This book has multiple memorable characters.

Races came and went. But what really drove me to love this story besides the action was everything else. The emotion behind the characters actions, the reasoning as to who they were in the story. It's almost too difficult to put into words. But trust me, this is one fantastic book!


Sunday, February 21, 2016

Review: Walk the Edge by Katie McGarry

Walk the Edge by Katie McGarry
Publisher-Harlequin TEEN
Released- March 29th 2016
Pre-Order- Amazon / B & N

One moment of recklessness will change their worlds
Smart. Responsible. That's seventeen-year-old Breanna's role in her large family, and heaven forbid she put a toe out of line. Until one night of shockingly un-Breanna-like behavior puts her into a vicious cyber-bully's line of fire—and brings fellow senior Thomas "Razor" Turner into her life.
Razor lives for the Reign of Terror motorcycle club, and good girls like Breanna just don't belong. But when he learns she's being blackmailed over a compromising picture of the two of them—a picture that turns one unexpected and beautiful moment into ugliness—he knows it's time to step outside the rules.
And so they make a pact: he'll help her track down her blackmailer, and in return she'll help him seek answers to the mystery that's haunted him—one that not even his club brothers have been willing to discuss. But the more time they spend together, the more their feelings grow. And suddenly they're both walking the edge of discovering who they really are, what they want, and where they're going from here.
My Thoughts: 
Katie McGarry's edgy contemporary series, Thunder Road, continues to do stupid things to my heart. I loved her Pushing the Limits series, but I think I love these books even more. They have an intensity to it that combines sizzling romance and a stronger sense of loyalty and dedication that goes above and beyond and I freaken love that!

I'm not sure I remember Razor all that much in the first book, Nowhere but Here, but then again I may have been distracted by the Oz & Emily- love, but no worries, I know exactly who Razor is now! Still torn up from his mother death, Razor is having a hard time dealing and it doesn't help that a detective is opening up fresh wounds by claiming that his mothers death may not have been an accident after all, but murder and Razor thinks that the Terror's are keeping secrets or worse, have something to do with it. Razor doesn't know what to believe but he's going to get answers and find help in the last place he ever thought to look.
Determined to start her senior year with a new look and attitude Breanna Miller wants to let loose and be remembered for something other then her vast intelligence and killer memory, but when a guy from school asks Breanna to help him cheat in English class and she refuses, Breanna becomes a victim to blackmail and cyber-bullying. Breanna is in need of a bodyguard and bad-boy-biker Thomas Turner (aka Razor) is just the Terror that will have her back. Whether she likes it or not.

Yup, I'm totally in love with this series! I mean dame!! McGarry has one helluva gift when drawing out the perfect amount of chemistry and heat that she gives to her characters and a really knack for writing edgy, bold and an addicting plot that has me completely consumed from start to finish Razor is my kind of bad boy. He has cool, confident and cunning down cold, but really there are so many levels to this guy which I loved since he felt more realistic and raw. He's loyal but confused with the Reign of Terror and the brotherhood. Mourning and messed up from his mothers death and rattled by his own feeling for a girl who doesn't live in his world, but through it all Razor's passion and strength was really the heart of this amazing story. So, if Razor is the heart, then Breanna is the definitely the soul. Being the 5th child out of 9, Breanna Miller has more then her share of responsibly but her family tends to overlook her and her siblings aren't always kind, but she sees something in Razor that goes beyond the club and the rumours and the stereotypical image. I really loved Breanna and thought she was the prefect girl to tame someone like Razor, someone who can bring him back to life and love him for him. I loved her feisty attitude, her amazing intelligence and her remarkable courage. As for the romance? It was absolutely delicious in all the right places. It's not exactly a forbidden love story, but it does cross the lines, throws you over that edge and it's thrilling, exciting and sexy as hell. I also really loved all the other characters but it was wonderful to see that Olivia is still making an impact. She was such a force in the first book and it's great to see that her memory is still very much alive.

Bottom line, Walk the Edge is a sensational installment in the Thunder Road series. I'm still a little surprised that I find these books so dame entertaining since I'm not a huge fan of biker-type books, but this definitely works for me and I'm having a blast with these Terror's and the women that steal their hearts. Gimme More!! 

Find the author:
Goodreads / Website                                 5 Snowflakes

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Review: Midnight Bites by Rachel Caine

Midnight Bites by Rachel Caine
Publisher- NAL
Released- March 1st 2016
Pre-Order- Amazon / B & N

New York Times bestselling author Rachel Caine presents a collection of stories—including six new tales—featuring the little Texas town that’s overrun by the undead. WELCOME TO MORGANVILLE. YOU’LL NEVER WANT TO LEAVE.
By day, Morganville, Texas, is just a typical college town. By night, the vampires emerge and take control....In a town where it’s not safe to be out after dark, student Claire Danvers and her friends have had their fair share of thrills. But Morganville still has a few secrets left to tell.Now, in this collection, you can venture down the town’s strange streets, revisit all the tales you’ve come to love, and experience six new stories featuring your favorite Morganville residents—both human and vampire...
My Thoughts:
Wow, the memories guys! The Morganville series has a very special place in my heart. It's the kind of escape where you never want to stop reading, miss it when it's over and crave for the next book. Rachel Caine has written 15 books in this world and then I had to say goodbye, so you can imagine my crazed reaction when I found out that she's not quite done with this extraordinary universe!
Now before I begin, I'd like to say that there is a reason I don't read very many novellas or anthology's. I always, and I mean always, want more. I'm a greedy little reader and want the big books to pour myself into, but this book is different and truly a wonderful treat to any existing Morganville fans or new readers.

Midnight Bites, is a collection of 22 short stories, 16 of which were previously released and 6 brand new material to sink our teeth in. I really loved that that each story is in order of the timelines within the series and that Caine introduces each story with her thoughts. I remembered a lot of the stories from before, but there are a few I had forgotten about and it was a really blast to come back to this world. Myrnin still holds the record for most zany and eccentric character I've ever had the pleasure of reading and I can't believe how much I've missed this wacky vampire. Sam's story made me sad, but of course it had nothing to do with his chapter. It was cool to find a story about Hannah Moses but the best parts would still have to go to my favorite foursome and the heart of the Morganville series, Shane, Claire, Michael and Eve's stories. Ah, I've missed my friends. These guys still have the best connections and chemistry and when reading about them (old and new) it felt like it never ended. My favorite story was a new one called, Pitch-black Blues, it's a Shane/ Myrnin story ('nuff said) but it was so fun to see Shane and Myrnin working together, or well, trying to. Given the history here I think they've come a long way but it was also so wonderful to see that after a year, Shane and Claire are still happily married and they still do stupid things to my heart.

Bottom line, I loved this book. Midnight Bites is the perfect collection and a must have for any Morganville fans new or old. It makes me feel sad and happy to have read this but one thing is for sure, it's still the most funnest times I ever had reading a book and I still have hopes that Caine will come back to this universe one day and give us all another round of thrills, chills, friends, action and romance. It's still very much a place, I never want to leave! Beautifully done. 

Find the author:
Goodreads / Website                                  5 Snowflakes

Upcoming Release & Review: Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

Expected publication: April 5, 2016 
Publisher:  Delacorte Press
Pre-order links:  Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble
What if the person you need the most is someone you’ve never met?

Everything about Jessie is wrong. At least, that’s what it feels like during her first week of junior year at her new ultra-intimidating prep school in Los Angeles. Just when she’s thinking about hightailing it back to Chicago, she gets an email from a person calling themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN for short), offering to help her navigate the wilds of Wood Valley High School. Is it an elaborate hoax? Or can she rely on SN for some much-needed help?

It’s been barely two years since her mother’s death, and because her father eloped with a woman he met online, Jessie has been forced to move across the country to live with her stepmonster and her pretentious teenage son.

In a leap of faith—or an act of complete desperation—Jessie begins to rely on SN, and SN quickly becomes her lifeline and closest ally. Jessie can’t help wanting to meet SN in person. But are some mysteries better left unsolved?

My Thoughts:
Let me tell you three things I liked about this book: (1) the characters were perfectly casted, (2) the plot was original, (3) the underlying message was topical and full of purpose. Great story by Julie Buxbaum that caught my attention and captured my heart.

Jessie Holmes is struggling through her Junior year at Wood Valley High School. It’s been 733 days since her mom died, and her father has added to the adjustment by carting her from Chicago to Los Angeles so they can live with his new wife. To say the transition has been tough is an absolute understatement. Her new step-brother doesn’t seem to be willing to help her acclimate to her new school and the girls at WVHS are just downright mean and callous. However, when Jessie gets an anonymous email from a fellow WVHS student who takes it upon himself to help her navigate the halls of their upscale school, Jessie doesn’t know whether to take this as another prank or well needed hand.

There were so many layers to the story that only added to the experience. I really came to like Jessie from the very beginning. She went through so much in such a short amount of time and managed without the help of her father. She was absolutely applause-worthy. She managed to make friends, get a job and figure out her place in her new environment all on her own. She did have moments of frustration, but Jessie never gave up. She definitely serves as a good role model to young adults.

I also appreciated the message that came along with social interactions on the internet. Talking about connections without context and how online relationships allow for good impressions because they can so easily be manipulated is so true. Julie Buxbaum tackles several online issues that are topical to today’s time, and I liked how she weaved it into her story.

In this book, you have a father that finds someone online and marries her rather quickly, as well as Jessie who is connecting with an anonymous person and begins to develop feelings without ever meeting them in person. All possible disasters, but Buxbaum isn’t here to preach or teach lessons, she simply uses these topics as a platform to a bigger part of her story, which is Jessie’s strength and courage to adjust and create her own path.

In addition to that, Julie Buxbaum also touches on death and grief. She pulled at my emotions when Jessie longed for her mother during her more difficult times. I loved to hear how Jessie felt about her mom, which made her loss so much more heartbreaking. Jessie acknowledged that losing her mother would never be okay, but she would power through the soul crushing grief. She talked about all of the milestones her mom would miss like her high school graduation, life lectures, college acceptance letters (or rejections) and most of all her mom would never see who Jessie would grow up to be. So emotional!

Overall, Tell Me Three Things had depth, heart and memorable characters that made for an enjoyable fictional journey. Loved this one. You should definitely check it out!
5 Snowflakes

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Top Ten Tuesdays

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.
This weeks topic is..
10 songs I wish that were books-

1. Burning House by Cam
2. Let it Go by James Bay
3. Two Black Cadillacs by Carrie Underwood--This appeals to my dark side lol!

1. Fireflies by Ron Pope
2. Skin (Sarabeth) by Rascal Flatts

There are so many great songs that would be perfect for books, but these are three I'd love to see:
1. Take Me Away by Lifehouse
2. Litost- x Ambassadors
3. Already Gone- Kelly Clarkson

I'm going to choose a recent song and one that's been on my fave list for a while.
1. Like I'm Gonna Lose You - Meghan Trainor & John Legend (That would make a great romance story!)
1. Stolen by Dashboard Confessional (I picture a good summer road trip story with this song.)

1. I won't give up - Jason Mraz
2. Highway Don't Care - Tim McGraw & Taylor Swift
3.We Danced Anyway - Deana Carter

Monday, February 15, 2016

Review: The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine

The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine
Publisher- Balzer + Bray 
Released- Feb 16th 2016
Purchase- Amazon / B & N

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.
My Thoughts:
Queen Irina is an evil magician who tricked the King of Ravenspire and it's people with gleaming red apples with innards of rot. She spelled her way into lands with her cursed magic, but Princess Lorelia has magic of her own and stopped the Queen long enough to break the spell over her family and the guards. Though it was too late for the King, Lorelia and Leo managed to escape with Gabril, one of the palace guards. Nine years later, Lorelia, Leo and Gabril is planning to avenge the Kings death and challenge the Queen for the lands that has been destroyed by her toxic magic.
In the neighbouring kingdom of Eldr, Kol was celebrating his latest infraction and awaits his father disapproval when he was met with the news that his parents and older brother has died by an ogre attack. Now, as the second prince in line for the throne, Kol is the new king of Eldr and is faced with the great task of leading his people from the magic wielding ogres that threaten their kingdom. But Kol can't fight them with mere weapons. He needs magic and he knows just where to find it.

To tell you the truth I wasn't sure I wanted to read this book. Don't get me wrong, I love fairy tale retellings, but in ways it all feels the same. So while reading this book I was searching for something to standout and looking to see how C.J Redwine would put her own spark to the much loved classic story of Snow White, and I found it...with Dragons! Yup, poison, powers and dragons people, now this is one fairytale fantasy that was impressive, consuming and a blast to read. I really enjoyed Redwine's take on this story. Sure it did have a lot of the same aspects of the original fairytale and it also reminded me a bit of the movie, but It was interesting from the start and then it just grew to be more fascinating as the story plays on. I think this has a lot to do with the dragons part of the story. I absolutely loved this lore and it really does bring an explosive element into the mix and was my favorite moments in this world.  But I also really enjoyed Redwine's writing and storytelling, it's delivered quite smoothly, loving the pace and flow that was always kept moving, intriguing and suspenseful. 

All of these characters are wonderfully developed with strong chemistry and crisp voices. Even the evil ones. Lorelia is a fierce girl that is incredibly determined to winning back her rightful throne. I loved watching her embrace her power and was so proud of how she helped Kol. Leo is such a loveable, clever and protective brother while Gabril is a wonderful man and a father in all the ways that matter. As much as I loved the family closeness that Gabril, Leo and Lorelai share, I think that Kol and the Draconi's stole this book for me. Kol is a dragon with two hearts. One human, one dragon, but they both beat with passion and strength. Did he make mistakes? Yes, yes he did. But he did it with the best of intentions and wasn't always in his right mind, plus, his proven actions and inner struggles more then made up for it. I also loved Kol's friends Jyn and Trugg. They are so loyal, kickass and brought a lot of comedy to the story. The romance came a little late, but it was still very sweet and made me smile. I liked the ending but my heart broke with the fate of one of the characters.

Bottom line, I really enjoyed The Shadow Queen, more then I thought I would which is always something I appreciate in a book. I like to be surprised and entertained and this book delivers just that. Great world building, stunning and terrifying magic. Action punched with heart and soul characters that I was attached to and invested in from start to finish. A great fairytale fantasy!

Find the author:
Goodreads / Website                              4 Snowflakes

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Blog Tour Review & Giveaway: Red: The True Story of Red Riding Hood by Liesl Shurtliff

 Today on WinterHaven Books I am participating in the blog tour for Red: The True Story of Red Riding Hood by Liesl Shurtliff!  For my stop today I am sharing my thoughts on this fun book and I also have a giveaway to share!

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release Date: April 12, 2016
Purchase: Amazon
Red is not afraid of the big bad wolf. She’s not afraid of anything . . . except magic.
But when Red’s granny falls ill, it seems that only magic can save her, and fearless Red is forced to confront her one weakness.

With the help of a blond, porridge-sampling nuisance called Goldie, Red goes on a quest to cure Granny. Her journey takes her through dwarves’ caverns to a haunted well and a beast’s castle. All the while, Red and Goldie are followed by a wolf and a huntsman—two mortal enemies who seek the girls’ help to defeat each other. And one of them just might have the magical solution Red is looking for. . . .

My Thoughts:
I'm usually not a fan of fairy tale retellings, but when this book came across my lap I just couldn't pass it up!  I had never seen a retelling of Red Riding Hood and I can say now after reading that the bar has been set high for all others!

I really enjoyed this story!  I've started to read quite a few middle grade books as of late, and I am telling these authors are hitting these stories out of the park!  This story is no exception!  I truly loved falling into this very creative world that Shurtliff has created and I have to give her major credit for taking a story I loved as a child and turning it upside down in the best way possible.  I often think it takes true guts to retell a tale that everyone knows and Ms.Shurtliff definitely has guts!

I think my favorite part of this though was Red. She was beyond fierce and could honestly give quite a few YA characters a run for their money.  She seemed wise beyond her years and I really enjoyed falling into her story and getting to learn about hew new world filled with magic and adventure.

I also really enjoyed seeing all kinds of characters pop up from other fairy tales!  Such a fun idea!  I would one day love to read the rest of this series because it has truly captured my heart!

If you are looking for a great retelling this is for you!  Ms.Shurtliff does a wonderful job at creating something new while still being true to the roots of the story.  I know this will not be my last title by her!

5 snowflakes
About the Author:
Liesl Shurtliff was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah, with the mountains for her playground. Just like Rump, Liesl was shy about her name, growing up. Not only did it rhyme with weasel, she could never find it on any of those personalized key chains in gift shops. But over the years she’s grown to love having an unusual name—and today she wouldn’t change it for the world!
Before she became a writer, Liesl graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in music, dance, and theater. She now lives in Chicago with her husband and three young children, where she still dreams of the mountains. Rump is her first novel.

Website / Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads

Giveaway time! 

Friday, February 12, 2016

Review: The Year We Fell Apart by Emily Martin

The Year We Fell Apart by Emily Martin
Release Date - January 26th, 2016
Publisher - Simon Pulse
Purchase - Amazon / B&N

In the tradition of Sarah Dessen, this powerful debut novel is a compelling portrait of a young girl coping with her mother’s cancer as she figures out how to learn from—and fix—her past.
Few things come as naturally to Harper as epic mistakes. In the past year she was kicked off the swim team, earned a reputation as Carson High’s easiest hook-up, and officially became the black sheep of her family. But her worst mistake was destroying her relationship with her best friend, Declan.
Now, after two semesters of silence, Declan is home from boarding school for the summer. Everything about him is different—he’s taller, stronger…more handsome. Harper has changed, too, especially in the wake of her mom’s cancer diagnosis.
While Declan wants nothing to do with Harper, he’s still Declan, her Declan, and the only person she wants to talk to about what’s really going on. But he’s also the one person she’s lost the right to seek comfort from.
As their mutual friends and shared histories draw them together again, Harper and Declan must decide which parts of their past are still salvageable, and which parts they’ll have to let go of once and for all.
In this honest and affecting tale of friendship and first love, Emily Martin brings to vivid life the trials and struggles of high school and the ability to learn from past mistakes over the course of one steamy North Carolina summer.

My thoughts:

I have to be honest with you and say that it was really the cover of this book that first caught my attention because of my, IT IS BEAUTIFUL! But once I read the synopsis, I realized that it very much sounds like "my kind" of book - contemporary about best friends who might have been and could be more dealing with family drama in a Southern setting. The "in the tradition of Sarah Dessen" line definitely hits home, though it would be unfair to say that this novel is just a Sarah Dessen rip-off, because it definitely isn't that. Emily Martin gives her story and her characters a distinctive voice that makes The Year We Fell Apart a contemporary YA debut definitely worth looking forward to.

Harper, Cory and Declan have done everything together since they were children. As hormones started to kick in, Harper and Declan started to slowly fall in love and for a while, it seemed like everything was perfect. Then Declan's mother died and his father shipped him off to school elsewhere, and suddenly a relationship the two had been building for years started to feel illogical. After Harper and Declan fall out of contact with each other, Harper starts to hang out with a new set of people and does things that she even herself seems to consider as epic mistakes.

When Declan comes back home after two semesters of silence, Harper quickly notices that he has changed. He is taller, more handsome and most importantly, not "her Declan" any longer. But Harper has changed too - her mother's cancer diagnosis has made her want to try and to fix her mistakes, but as the events that unfold show her, changing your habits even if you desperately want it, might not actually be that easy of a task.

I really liked the connection between Declan and Harper and the way Emily Martin builds the relationship between the two quite slowly. There's no instalove or instaromance here and a lot of pages are used to establish the characters and the setting, which reminded me of Sarah Dessen's novels. I would say in many ways The Year We Fell Apart is a "quiet novel" in the sense that there are really no epic or spectacular scenes, but rather the novel feels like something that could happen to you, or to someone you know. Emily Martin succeeds in creating characters that are not one-sided, characters that you can easily feel for, characters that you can connect with.

In addition to being a tale about a new chance in love, The Year We Fell Apart is about forgiveness, friendships and family. Emily Martin brilliantly writer Harper as a flawed character whose actions can seem frustrating, but at the same time, you just get her. She makes mistakes, but I think she tries her best to stop making them. Declan is no prince either and I loved the fact that Martin wasn't afraid to show a side of Declan that might push him away from some readers. I think in general Martin succeeds in telling a tale of two very confused teenagers who are dying to find a connection and happiness despite the mistakes and decisions they have made in the past.

The things Harper goes through really made me happy about the fact that I am not a teenager anymore. I am blessed to say that my teenage years were quite drama and angst free, and I think that is mostly why I love books like this so much. The Year We Fell Apart might not be for everyone, but it definitely was a novel perfect for me!

4 snowflakes

Tina's Thoughts:
Once in awhile I crave a sweet contemporary romance to break up the heavy hardened issues I usually escape too. The Year We Fell Apart, was exactly what I needed. This is a story about first love, lost love and all the mistakes and regrets that come with it. I really enjoyed this book more then I thought I would, it's not exactly a new concept, but I thought it was realistically portrayed and honest and completely adorable in it's own light.

I'm not sure I can say this book is overly romantic but I would still call this a love story. Harper and Declan have been best friends since they were young but that friendship turned into something more, something perfect, but after Declan's mother passes away and he gets shipped off to boarding school, it becomes less perfect and becomes to hard and lonely for Harper to deal with.

Now, I'd like to state that the things Harper has done and is doing in this book was not right in any way, but here's the thing, as we learn the events that happened I started to really sympathy with Harper's situation, understood it and even find it justified. Yes, Harper actions were very selfish and she was very frustrating to read at times, but I also get making mistakes after mistakes till they turn into one big ball of ugly regrettable wrongs and you don't know how to go back and fix it. My point is, that Harper may be very flawed and so is Declan for that matter, but I still thought they were good people and it's what they learned from it, the choices they make and owning up to them that make them most likely to survive. If your gonna go down in flames, love really is the best reason to do it.

Other then relationship aspects of the story, there is a sensational theme of friendships and family as well. I don't know why but I love the idea of having guys for best friends. Cory is hilarious and amazing and a great friend. And I loved what Mack and Gwen brought into the story. Sadie has to go though, she was such a bad influence and even though Harper made her own decisions, it felt like Sadie was really the one causing trouble. I also really loved Harper's parents and brother and thought her mother was brave and inspiring.

All in all, I really loved this book. I loved the writing style, I loved the characters and the awkward situations and I love the friendship between Harper, Declan and Cory. Underneath all the angst and drama is a really  sweet story that went up against exhaustible odds of a second chance romance and I simple felt compelled from start to finish. I know that this is obviously a stand alone novel, but I can't help wanting more. What becomes of Harper and Declan now?  Can they make their still fragile and long distance relationship work and what struggles do they still face? How is Harper's mother? And will Declan and his dad ever resolve their indifferences? Yup, I'm gonna need a second book please! A great debut and a terrific read!  

Find the author: 
Goodreads / Website                             4 Snowflakes

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Top Ten Tuesdays

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.
This weeks topic is..
Top 10 fictional crushes

There are to many fictional hotties that I adore, but I'm gonna go with the usual suspects on this one. 1.Jace Wayland,
2.Edward Cullen (yes, still)
3.Daemon Black

1. Mr. Darcy from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice
2. Josh Mitchell from Heather Demetrios's I'll Meet You There

This is a fun one!  Okay I'm going with...
1. √Čtienne St. Clair from Anna and the French Kiss
2. Morpheus from Splintered
3. Rafa from Shadows

Wow! Where do I start???
1. Peeta Mellark from The Hunger Games (He'll never leave my list. Been on it for over 7 years)
2. Thomas Mackee from The Piper's Son
3. Jamie Fraser from Outlander

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Blog Tour: The Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski!

We are so excited to be participating in the Winner's Kiss blog tour hosted by Fierce Reads!!  For our stop we get to talk about our favorite kiss! 

What book is your favorite literary kiss in?
I would have to say Shatter Me by Tahreh Mafi. I read this book back in 2011, and when I was asked about a hot kiss for this post, that book immediately came to mind.  Mafi definitely left an impression on me with her kissing scenes.

Who is kissing?
The two main characters in the story Juliette Ferrars and Adam Kent have some pretty intense moments in that book, but it all stays very YA appropriate. :)

Why is it your favorite?
Well first off Juliette and Adam were an absolute perfect pair. Aside from their pretty steamy moments, there was some beautiful dialog and yes … their hot as HALE kisses. I remember having to wipe the steam from my glasses. Most importantly though, it was nice to see these two characters who knew and cared for each other long before the story even began come together and start a very intense journey, so it's logical that their romance would be pretty memorable.

We have to share our love of this series and to go along with this tour Fierce Reads is letting us send a kiss to a friend!  So Emily you have been kissed!!  We hope you enjoy!

The Winner's Kiss (The Winner's Trilogy, #3)The Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski
Publisher: Farrar Straus & Giroux
Release Date:March 29th, 2016
Purchase: Amazon
War has begun. Arin is in the thick of it with untrustworthy new allies and the empire as his enemy. Though he has convinced himself that he no longer loves Kestrel, Arin hasn’t forgotten her, or how she became exactly the kind of person he has always despised. She cared more for the empire than she did for the lives of innocent people—and certainly more than she did for him.

At least, that’s what he thinks.

In the frozen north, Kestrel is a prisoner in a brutal work camp. As she searches desperately for a way to escape, she wishes Arin could know what she sacrificed for him. She wishes she could make the empire pay for what they’ve done to her.

But no one gets what they want just by wishing.

As the war intensifies, both Kestrel and Arin discover that the world is changing. The East is pitted against the West, and they are caught in between. With so much to lose, can anybody really win?
About the Author:
 Marie Rutkoski is the author of The Kronos Chronicles, including The Cabinet of Wonders and The Celestial Globe. The Cabinet of Wonders, her debut novel, was named an Indie Next Kids’ List Great Read and a Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year, among other honors. Rutkoski grew up in Bolingbrook, Illinois (a suburb of Chicago), as the oldest of four children. She attended the University of Iowa, where she took Writers’ Workshop classes and studied with Pulitzer Prize-winner James Alan McPherson. After graduating, she lived in Moscow and Prague. Upon receiving her Ph.D. from Harvard University, she held dual appointments as a lecturer there in both English and American Literature and Language, and History and Literature. Rutkoski is currently a professor at Brooklyn College, where she teaches Renaissance Drama, children’s literature and creative writing. She lives in New York City with her husband and cat. 

Don't forget to check out the other amazing blogs joining in the kissing fun!  Click here to see a list of participating blogs.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Blog Tour: Where Futures End by Parker Peevyhouse: Novella feature & giveaway

 Today on WinterHaven Books I am participating in the blog tour for Where Futures End by Parker Peevyhouse!  As part of my stop I have an amazing novella to share with you as well as giveaway!!

When We Ended It All (Quinn)

“On the first day, you will tell your story. On the second, I will tell mine. On the third, one of us will die. You will choose who.”

One hundred years from now, Quinn lives in the woods near an apocalyptic ruin. During her rite of passage, she meets a boy who claims to be from the Other Place. But no one knows the stories of the Other Place better than Quinn, and Quinn senses there’s something not quite right about the tale this stranger tells her.

Each part of WHERE FUTURES END explores the storytelling power of a different medium: novels and movies in the first part, TV and the Internet in the second part, music in the third part, video games in the fourth part, and oral storytelling in the fifth part. I wanted this fifth part, in which Quinn and the stranger tell each other stories, to have the feel of a fairy tale. Since WHERE FUTURES END often alludes to Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, I decided to base this final section on the tale that supposedly inspired “The Jabberwocky.” This old English legend, called “The Lambton Wyrm,” is about a tiny monster that grows so large it surrounds the entire countryside and must be slayed.

When Quinn listens to the stranger’s story about a monster that must be defeated, the reader can see how the legends about the Other Place have evolved over the course of the book. Together the reader and Quinn must use their knowledge of the Other Place to decide whether this stranger can be trusted, and then must try to figure out the truth at the heart of the stranger’s story.

Finally, the puzzle pieces of WHERE FUTURES END come together, and I hope the reader will have enjoyed putting them together.

Where Futures EndWhere Futures End by Parker Peeveyhouse
Publisher: Kathy Dawson Books
Release Date: February 9th, 2016
Purchase: Amazon
Five teens.
Five futures.
Two worlds.
One ending.

One year from now, Dylan develops a sixth sense that allows him to glimpse another world.

Ten years from now, Brixney must get more hits on her social media feed or risk being stuck in a debtors' colony.

Thirty years from now, Epony scrubs her entire online profile from the web and goes “High Concept.”

Sixty years from now, Reef struggles to survive in a city turned virtual gameboard.

And more than a hundred years from now, Quinn uncovers the alarming secret that links them all.

Five people, divided by time, will determine the fate of us all. These are stories of a world bent on destroying itself, and of the alternate world that might be its savior--unless it's too late.
 Parker Peevyhouse
Find Parker

I don't know about you, but this makes me want to dive into Where Futures End right now!
Giveaway time!  Penguin has graciously offered to send one lucky reader their very own hardcover copy of Where Futures End!  Open to US residents only.
Good Luck!