Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Blog Tour: How to Break a Boy by Laurie Devore

Today on WinterHaven Books I am kicking off the blog tour for How to Break a Boy by Laurie Devore!!  For my stop I am sharing my review with you!

How to Break a BoyHow to Break a Boy by Laurie Devore
Publisher: Imprint
Release Date: Jan 31st, 2017
Purchase: Amazon
Keep your enemies close, but your friends closer.

Olivia Clayton has mastered the art of tearing others down to stay on top. She and her best friend, Adrienne, rule their small southern town like all good mean girls do--through intimidation and manipulation.

After Olivia suffers a family tragedy and catches Adrienne sleeping with her boyfriend, Olivia is over it. She decides to make a change--but it's impossible to resist taking Adrienne down one last time. Up to her old tricks, Olivia convinces golden boy Whit DuRant to be her SAT tutor and her fake boyfriend. But when it starts to feel real, Whit gets caught up in Olivia and Adrienne's war.

Olivia may ruin everything she touches, but this time she won't go down without a fight--not if it means losing Whit.

And definitely not if it means losing what's left of herself.
“If the Heathers had had smartphones.” Kirkus Reviews

My thoughts:
How to Break a Boy was my type of contemporary novel!  It wasn't soft and dreamy, it was tough, dark and a little scary which worked for me.

In a nutshell the story is about Olivia and how she lives her life in the shadow of her partner in crime friend Adrienne.  These two together were a high school students worst nightmare.  They were ruthless, mean, and always out to get somebody even if you just make eye contact wrong you are on their list. When Olivia's brother dies, she changes and begins to think maybe this mean girl lifestlye isn't what she wants anymore.  Leaving isn't always easy though and so begins her journey to find herself without popularity, her brother, and her toxic friend.

It was painful to read quite a few places in this story.  So many times Olivia could have done the right thing, but she stays under Adriennes thumb and causes chaos for so many people.  I won't lie I wanted to slap her so many times throughout this book, but her saving grace was that she little by little saw her errors and wanted to correct them.  It took awhile, but she slowly grew a backbone and for that I am grateful.

My favorite character in this though was Claire.  She was a kind of secondary character and I thought she was amazing.  She got caught up in the mess of Olivia's fight with Adrienne and I felt sorry for her, but I liked her positive attitude which helped guide Olivia.  It wasn't always easy for her, but she didn't let things tear her down.

My other favorite character was Whit which won't surprise you if you read this book.  He was definitely a shining character throughout and my heart broke for him when things turned bad.  He was an innocent bystander, but he definitely caught the brunt of the fight and I can't lie it ticked me off.  He didn't deserve what happened to him and I was shocked at the extent Adrienne went.  He handled it better than most though and I have to give him credit for standing his ground.

My one problem with this story though was that I wanted more of a conclusion with Adrienne. I don't think she should have been able to walk away so easily and I know that her world changed somewhat, but it wasn't enough for me.  I wanted her to suffer more honestly.

I thought this story was going to be more of a revenge story, but it turned out to be more of a saving story and I liked it.  There were frustrating scenes and I wanted to punch a few people, but you know high school is tough and this shows just how tough it can be.  I know this is extreme, but peer pressure is out there and I've seen a lot of bad things so if you think about it this really isn't that extreme.  I'm glad the author chose to show the darker side of school and I can even understand why she chose to let things be at the end.  Nothing is ever tied up perfectly in a bow and this story shows that.  I'm just glad a few characters ended up where I hoped they would.

Dark story with shinning moments that held me captivated till the last page.  Can't ask for more than that!

3.5 snowflakes

About the Author
Laurie Devore was born and raised in small town South Carolina and graduated from Clemson University. She now lives and works in Chicago, where she misses the charms and contradictions of the south every day. In her spare time, she reluctantly runs marathons, watches too much TV, and works a "y’all" into every conversation. How to Break a Boy is her debut novel.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Review: Finders Keepers (Rebels of the Lamp #2) by Michael M.B. Galvin, Peter Speakman

Finders Keepers (Rebels of the Lamp, #2)Finders Keepers (Rebels of the Lamp #2) by Michael M.B. Galvin, Peter Speakman
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Release Date: February 7th, 2017
Purchase: Amazon
After Parker and his friends destroyed the evil genie, Xaru, they awoke an even greater threat: Vesiroth. An immortal sorcerer who was frozen for centuries is now free, and he’s determined to finish what he had started—taking over the world. In order to accomplish his goal he must find the Elicuum Helm, an ancient object that will grant the user extraordinary powers. But the helm was broken into three pieces many years ago, and now Parker, along with his genie, Fon-Rham, his cousin Theo, Reese and Vesiroth’s former protégé, will have to travel the globe to find the helm first before it's too late.

My Thoughts:
This second book in the Rebels of the Lamp series was just as exciting, but a bit darker in my opinion.  I liked it, but I am struggling with labeling these as middle grade.

The story opens up with Parker, Reese, and Theo enjoying the benefits of having a genie for a friend.  Everyday they get to go on adventures and live life to its fullest.  Lurking in the shadows those is Vesiroth and he is ready to take back his life and wreck havoc on all of mankind.

Rebels of the Lamp itself was dark and like I said in my previous review had quite a bit of killing within its pages.  Finders Keepers has the same, but it felt like the killing numbers were doubled and there are a few scenes I am struggling with.  I think the authors could have chosen a different way to get rid of certain characters that would have kept this book more in the middle grade lane.  That being said though I do think middle school boys will devour this one just as much as the first and will probably all love the way certain characters met their demise haha.  

My favorite part was how exciting the story line was.  I loved seeing all the magic and never knowing when the next strike from the Path or Vesiroth would be!  It was so fast paced and exciting!!

I still very much liked the characters.  Parker showed he was loyal to his friends and I appreciated his loyalty.  I think he grew up a bit between the last book and this one and it was nice to see.  I also really liked Professor Ellison.  She is tough and cold, but I am very intrigued by her and I can't wait to see where her story goes next.  Theo puzzled me a bit though and I am very curious where his story line go probably the most out of all the characters.  He has some issues going on that need working out and I hope he figures things out soon.

All in all this was another fun addition to the Rebels of the Lamp series and that ending definitely set the stage for a great third book.  I am attached to this series and I can not wait to see what happens next!!  I think the next book will be the best one yet!

4 snowflakes



Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Mega Manga Giveaway! Chobits by CLAMP, Shirley Kubo

WinterHaven Books is exciting to host this Mega Manga Giveaway in appreciation to our followers who visit our blog. This week, we are giving away the first SIX installments of Chobits by CLAMP, Shirley Kubo.
Thank you to all of our followers and bloggie friends for visiting WinterHaven Books!!!

Chobits, Vol. 1 (Chobits #1) by CLAMP, Shirley Kubo
Published: April 23, 2002
Publisher: Tokyopop
Chi isn't your average humanoid computer. She can't do word processing, she can't connect to the Internet, and she's incapable of networking with other persocoms. Even her sound card seems broken. No wonder Hideki found her tied up in a pile of trash. But when the 19-year-old technophobe takes her home, he finds that she may be more advanced than her childlike behavior lets on.

If this sounds like a manga series you would enjoy reading, be sure to fill out the rafflecopter below for a chance to win the first six installments, plus one added manga surprise. Be sure to leave a thoughtful comment below about the series or giveaway. Because of the number of books we'll be shipping, this giveaway is open to US Residents only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Review: The Midnight Star (The Young Elites #3) by Marie Lu

The Midnight Star (The Young Elites #3) by Marie Lu
Published: October 11, 2016
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
There was once a time when darkness shrouded the world, and the darkness had a queen.

Adelina Amouteru is done suffering. She’s turned her back on those who have betrayed her and achieved the ultimate revenge: victory. Her reign as the White Wolf has been a triumphant one, but with each conquest her cruelty only grows. The darkness within her has begun to spiral out of control, threatening to destroy all she’s gained.

When a new danger appears, Adelina’s forced to revisit old wounds, putting not only herself at risk, but every Elite. In order to preserve her empire, Adelina and her Roses must join the Daggers on a perilous quest—though this uneasy alliance may prove to be the real danger. 

My Thoughts
“There was once a time when darkness shrouded the world, and the darkness had a queen.”

Fantastical conclusion to an explosive series! The Midnight Star is just another example of Marie Lu’s exceptional ability to take her readers on a quest that is nothing short of high octane adventure and mind-blowing intrigue. YA Fantasy at its BEST!

In this final installment to The Young Elites, we journey with Adelina Amouteru has she continues to spiral down a dark path with both her powers and reign as queen. She faces her enemies head on with her ability to wield dark illusions and suffering, and she’s gained the fear of her people. The only one she can trust is Magiano, and even he can’t keep her safe from the threats she faces at every turn. When the world begins to show signs of destruction, Adelina must align with her enemies and rejoin the Elites as they travel to the Realm of Gods to save her people from the darkness that lies ahead.

Marie Lu definitely made some bold decisions in this story with both her characters and plot direction. The Midnight Star takes us down a dark path that Adelina experiences, and it was definitely an emotional exercise. It did not escape my notice that despite having the story told in multiple perspectives, where we heard from Raffaele, Maeve, Magiano, Teren and Violetta, the only first person narrative was from Adelina. It was like Marie Lu was forcing her audience to experience Adelina’s darkness firsthand. Great perspective that added a dark edge to the story.

Also, I loved how Lu was daring enough to make some bold sacrifices throughout her story with both characters and plot direction. Despite not wanting to lose some of the characters I connected with, it added credibility and substance to the story. I applaud Marie Lu for making the decisions she made, and I truly sensed she did it to advance the story and not for shock value. Well done!

As far as the emotional strength in this story, I would rate it a TEN! I’m not a crier when it comes to reading, but let me tell you… there were some moments that I felt the familiar tightening of my jaw and sting in my eyes. That only goes to show how completely I connected with the story and characters. What an experience!

Overall, it’s no secret I’m a huge fan of YA Fantasy, but only when it’s exceptional to the likes of Rowling, Marchetta and Lu. I’m willing to invest my time in this genre when I trust the author has the ability to create a fantastical journey, and Marie Lu is up there with the best in this genre. Loved it much!
5 Snowflakes

Monday, January 16, 2017

Review: Rebels of the Lamp by Michael M.B. Galvin, Peter Speakman

Rebels of the Lamp (Rebels of the Lamp, #1)Rebels of the Lamp by Michael M.B. Galvin, Peter Speakman
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Release Date: May 12th, 2015
Purchase: Amazon
Life is a blast when you have your very own genie. But when Parker Quarry is shipped from sunny Los Angeles to live with relatives in a quiet New Hampshire college town and releases a 2,000 year-old jinn from an ancient canister "borrowed" from the university building where his uncle works, the biggest blasts comes from the millennia old power struggle he reignites.

Now it is up to Parker, his mild-mannered cousin, Theo, and their wiz-kid classmate, Reese, to stop a battalion of battle-ready jinn from re-starting an all-out war one with humanity in the crosshairs

My Thoughts:
Rebels of the Lamp was really fun and I really enjoyed every minute of it!

This story was explosive from the start and the action never stopped!  Parker is in middle school and doesn't quite fit in.  He doesn't have the latest gadget and his shoes aren't from any name brand store. And in the middle school world this spells trouble.  Well that and the fact that he can't stop himself from making snarky remarks.  His mouth and fists finally land him in deep trouble and he is forced to move in with is aunt and uncle across the country.  Thinking things couldn't get any worse, he finds himself in the possession of a strange canister.  This canister unleashes just what he think he needs, but it also throws him head first into a war with very powerful genies.

What I described doesn't even come close to the adventure that is contained within these pages!  Like I said,  it was nonstop action from the first page all the way to the last.  I have to give the authors major credit for shoving so much in and having it not feel to crowded.  I think too much downtime would have slowed the pace of the story and it would have weakened it.  I liked that after every page something else happened and it had me furiously flipping pages to find out what would happen next.

I also have to give credit for Parker.  He is definitely smart mouthed and annoying, but the authors knew when to pull back and he didn't go too over the top and become unlikable.  Yes he wasn't my favorite person, but I am glad the authors let other characters take over.  If it was just told from Parkers point of view I think I would have hated him in the end.

I loved the way the side story was told also.  We get glimpses in the beginning telling us how the genies came to be and I thought it was a great addition.  So much so that I wanted more.  I'm not sure there was more to tell, but I liked the setting and the old world feel to that part of the book.

I also really liked Tarinn.  She made some questionable decisions at the end, but for the most part she was a great character and one I really hope we see more of.  I honestly liked the rest of the cast.  Theo and Reese were fun additions that helped ground Parker and I think they will help him become a stronger character in the sequel.

Overall this was a fun book and one I can see any middle schooler devouring.  I will say there is a lot of violence and a lot of blood/killing that I personally wasn't prepared for.  I think some scenes could've been taken out and the story would have still been the same so it was a bit unnecessary for so much to be included.  I haven't read much middle grade so maybe this is the norm??  If not then just a warning to some.

4 snowflakes

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Review: Beautiful Broken Girls by Kim Savage

Beautiful Broken GirlsBeautiful Broken Girls by Kim Savage
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Release Date: Feb 21st, 2017
Purchase: Amazon
Mira and Francesca Cillo—beautiful, overprotected, odd—seemed untouchable. But Ben touched seven parts of Mira: her palm, hair, chest, cheek, lips, throat, and heart. After the sisters drown themselves in the quarry lake, a post-mortem letter from Mira sends Ben on a quest to find notes in the seven places where they touched. Note by note, Ben discovers the mystical secret at the heart of Mira and Francesca's world, and that some things are better left untouched.

My Thoughts:
This was very different than I thought it was going to be.  I expected a dark thriller, but it turned out to be more of a sad story with a dark twist and I have to say it kinda worked.

The whole story is about Ben trying to find out why his neighbors, Mira and Francesca, committed suicide together.  He finds a note shortly after their passing and feels like it's his duty to Mira to find out her story.

Like I said I thought this was going to be a thriller, but it was just really sad.  The more we learn about the two sisters, the sadder it gets and a lot of things start coming to light by the end.  These things are not said in so many words and I kind of wish they had been.  I think it would have given the story another layer that it needed.  Keeping it as it was though did give the story a bit of mystery that was intriguing and let the reader draw their own conclusions.  In my opinion both ways would have worked, but I personally would have liked a better overall explanation.

My favorite thing about this story was the setting.  It felt very Jersey Shorish and mob/old gangster.  I thought this was a fun spin and I liked the way the girls family was described.  They were blood and blood always helped blood.  This helped lighten the story a tad, and it needed that because it was so sad.

One thing that I wished would have been wrapped up was Nick.  I am still not quite sure what his role was and it bothers me a tad.  I think the author left a little too much up to the readers imagination and could have tightened her storylines.  I for one like to have things spelled out for me so I feel a bit off not knowing things for certain.  

I did like this though and enjoyed it more than the authors previous works.  I think this style is just something I will have to get used to if I continue on with Savage (her previous book had the same kind of open endedness) and I think I will because this one was intriguing and fun.

3.5 snowflakes


Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Mega Manga Giveaway! Kare First Love by Kaho Miyasaka and Akira Watanabe

WinterHaven Books is excited to host this Mega Manga Giveaway in appreciation to our followers who visit our blog.  This week, we are giving away the first SEVEN installments of Kare First Love by Kaho Miyasaka and Akira Watanabe.  You can see my review for the first installment below, as well as, the links to my other reviews. 

Be sure to check back later this month for another Mega Manga Giveaway!!
Published: September 7, 2004
Publisher: VIZ Media LLC
The age-old dilemma of choosing between your friend and the one you love is the lesson for the day for these bubbly high schoolers. 16-year-old Karin Karino finds herself torn between keeping the friendship of her classmate Yuka and entertaining the advances of a boy named Kiriya. Plain-Jane Karin experiences the gut-tingling roller coaster ride for her love and first kiss as fate pairs her up with Kiriya, who also happens to be Yuka's object of affection.

Through a series of chance meetings, Kiriya discovers the exquisite beauty lurking behind Karin's thick glasses and coy demeanor, and asks her to be his girlfriend. But living happily ever after in high school isn't on the curriculum, as Karin soon finds herself the center of Kiriya's attention, as well as the bulls eye in embittered pal Yuka's dart-board of hate.
My Thoughts
Originally Reviewed: November 2010

I was looking to find a substitute for my Vampire Knight manga obsession and I seem to have landed on just the right series.

Kare First Love by Kaho Miyasaka was a great kickoff to what I feel will be an entertaining series. I like the two main characters in this book. They are little more bold than I am used to, which is actually very refreshing and enjoyable.

The plot is intriguing but not uncommon as it deals with the age old dilemma of a guy coming in between two friends. However in this case, I’m not so sure Yuka is the friend Karin thinks she is, so I hope Karin is able to see her for what she really is and follow her heart. Kiriya seems sincere and down right loveable, so I hope he gets his chance with the girl, but anything can happen and I’m going to continue with this series so I can find out.

I enjoyed it much. Now on to blow my book budget, which I’ve been very good with lately.
4 Snowflakes
Arlene's Reviews for:
If this sounds like a manga series you would enjoy reading, be sure to fill out the rafflecopter below for a chance to win the first seven installments, plus one added manga surprise. Be sure to leave a thoughtful comment below about the series or giveaway. Because of the number of books we'll be shipping, this giveaway is open to US Residents only. 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Review: The Last Harvest by Kim Liggett

The Last HarvestThe Last Harvest by Kim Liggett
Publisher: Tor Teen
Release Date: January 10th, 2017
Purchase: Amazon
“I plead the blood.”

Those were the last words seventeen-year-old golden boy quarterback Clay Tate heard rattling from his dad's throat when he discovered him dying on the barn floor of the Neely Cattle Ranch, clutching a crucifix to his chest.

Now, on the first anniversary of the Midland, Oklahoma slaughter, the whole town's looking at Clay like he might be next to go over the edge. Clay wants to forget the past, but the sons and daughters of the Preservation Society—a group of prominent farmers his dad accused of devil worship—won't leave him alone. Including Ali, his longtime crush, who suddenly wants to reignite their romance after a year of silence, and hated rival Tyler Neely, who’s behaving like they’re old friends.

Even as Clay tries to reassure himself, creepy glances turn to sinister stares and strange coincidences build to gruesome rituals—but when he can never prove that any of it happened, Clay worries he might be following his dad down the path to insanity...or that something far more terrifying lies in wait around the corner.

My Thoughts:
This book is EVERYTHING!  I have been reading creepy reads for a long time and The Last Harvest tops my favorites of ALL.TIME!!!  Yes it is that good!!

Right from the beginning Liggett throws her readers into a story filled with dark and scary elements.  From the breeding barn, wheat fields, and Preservation Society you can just feel the sinister smoke following Clay around.  It was AMAZING!!  I don't think any other story has been this way and I loved it!  

The story itself was dark and had a religious tone throughout, but it wasn't too heavy handed and I honestly liked the way it was woven throughout the story. It plays a huge part in the overall plot, but the author didn't let it get too preachy which I appreciated.  It felt right inside the story and I don't think it would have worked otherwise.  There is one part that's a bit aggressive and bothered me, but I am guessing the author chose to throw that particular scene in to show how bad the church was and it's thinking.  Not quite sure why it was necessary, but I am grateful it was only one scene and the author chose to move on.

Clay was a great character.  He was flawed, but he just wanted to help his family after his fathers gruesome death.  That's another thing I liked about this, Liggett didn't throw all the gory at you at one time she let things build.  Like with Clay's dads death, you know it was gruesome, but she only throws bits and pieces (okay that's a bit gross if you have read the story you will understand...ick) at you and you don't really see the full picture until later in the story.  I liked this because I felt like the story was building into something spectacular and I was right.  Okay back to the characters, Clay was awesome.  I think the played his part right and didn't come across as too good or too bad.  He tried to be the man of the house, but when you are seventeen and well things beyond your control start happening one can't expect to be perfect.  I appreciated that he stood his ground throughout and he did the best he could.

I also liked the town feel.  Like I said this author painted a great picture for her thriller and this small town was a great addition.  It sounds cliche, but it worked and she did a great job weaving in the history to show why this town was the way it was.  It all just really worked!

I honestly can't think of one thing I would change and for me that's rare.  The pacing, flow, writing, characters, setting, and plot were all key pieces to this masterpiece and they all pulled their own weight.  Side note I would love to see this on the big screen!!

My favorite part was the ending!!! OMG!  I don't think I have ever been as surprised at an ending before!  I won't spoil anything, but let me just say Kim Liggett has become my now go to author for creepy!!  I loved the way she chose to end The Last Harvest and I won't lie I had nightmares last night about that ending!!  SO.MUCH.FUN!!  If you love creepy thrillers this book is definitely for you!!!!!!!!
5 HUGE snowflakes

Monday, January 9, 2017

Follower Appreciation: Bundle of Books Giveaway #7

WinterHaven Book has more giveaways to share!  This week we have a bundle of four books for one lucky WinterHaven blog follower. 

WinterHaven Books thanks you for continuing to visit our blog!!
For a chance to win, be sure to fill out the rafflecopter AND comment below telling us what book you're interested in reading. Please note, these books are paperback ARC editions and one of the books (What We Left Behind by Robin Talley) has no art cover. Because of the number of books we'll be shipping, this giveaway is open to US Residents only. 
Goodbye, Rebel Blue by Shelley Coriell (ARC edition)
The Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Robin Palmer (ARC edition)
How I Lost You by Janet Gurtler (ARC edition)
What We Left Behind by Robin Talley (ARC edition no art cover)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Review: The Wrath & the Dawn (The Wrath and the Dawn #1) by Renee Ahdieh

Published: May 12, 2015
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
One Life to One Dawn.

In a land ruled by a murderous boy-king, each dawn brings heartache to a new family. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, is a monster. Each night he takes a new bride only to have a silk cord wrapped around her throat come morning. When sixteen-year-old Shahrzad's dearest friend falls victim to Khalid, Shahrzad vows vengeance and volunteers to be his next bride. Shahrzad is determined not only to stay alive, but to end the caliph's reign of terror once and for all.

Night after night, Shahrzad beguiles Khalid, weaving stories that enchant, ensuring her survival, though she knows each dawn could be her last. But something she never expected begins to happen: Khalid is nothing like what she'd imagined him to be. This monster is a boy with a tormented heart. Incredibly, Shahrzad finds herself falling in love. How is this possible? It's an unforgivable betrayal. Still, Shahrzad has come to understand all is not as it seems in this palace of marble and stone. She resolves to uncover whatever secrets lurk and, despite her love, be ready to take Khalid's life as retribution for the many lives he's stolen. Can their love survive this world of stories and secrets?

Inspired by A Thousand and One Nights, The Wrath and the Dawn is a sumptuous and enthralling read from beginning to end.

My Thoughts
“Some things exist in our lives for but a brief moment. And we must let them go on to light another sky.”

Amazing story building, character development and pacing, which ultimately leads to an explosive ending. I loved it!

I've had The Wrath & the Dawn in my sights for quite some time, and I'm glad I finally got around to it. Renee Ahdieh did an incredible job of crafting a YA Fantasy/Romance that incorporated a good dose of intrigue and drama. She had me captivated the entire time.

The Wrath & the Dawn, inspired by A Thousand and One Nights, tells the story of Khalid who is a young boy king/caliph of Khorason. He is known by his people as the monster ruler who marries a different girl every night and kills her at dawn.

When Shahrzad’s (Shazi) best friend becomes Khalid’s victim, she volunteers to be the next in line to marry the caliph. Her motives are to avenge the deaths of the girls who have come before her and murder Khalid in order to end his reign of terror. However, as weeks and then months pass, Shazi finds herself falling in love with Khalid and uncovering hidden secrets that spin a different perspective on who he really is. Her love for the caliph soon becomes a driving force that has her family and friends wondering how her allegiance could have shifted to this murderous monster.

It might be surprising to know that there is an incredible love story that develops in this novel. “I love you, she said. Khalid lifted his head to hers. She placed a hand against his cheek. Beyond words.” I truly adored the slow building romance that made The Wrath & the Dawn come to life. Shazi and Khalid were a perfect match. Shazi is strong, fierce, bold, cunning, outspoken and does not cower to anyone. Khalid, on the other hand, is mysterious, quiet, unassuming, and difficult to dislike.

“You have a beautiful laugh. Like the promise of tomorrow.”
Shazi is a perfect heroine for this story of drama and intrigue. She has so many qualities about her that give her strength and purpose, and it was heartwarming to see Khalid fall for this hurricane of a girl.

“I’ve missed the silence of you listening to me.” Shahrzad attempted a weak smile. “No one listens to me as you do.” His expression turned quizzical. “You don’t wait to speak,” she clarified. “You truly listen.” “Only to you,” Khalid replied gently.”
The moments that Shahrzad and Khalid shared throughout the novel really made the story entrancing and fascinating. I constantly longed to see more of these scenes shared because it was clear how perfect Shazi and Khalid were for one another.

“Shazi, I prefer the color blue to any other. The scent of lilacs in your hair is a source of constant torment. I despise figs. Lastly, I will never forget, all the days of my life, the memories of last night— For nothing, not the sun, not the rain, not even the brightest star in the darkest sky, could begin to compare to the wonder of you.” ~Khalid
Renee Ahdeih has a true gift in creating poetic moments with her words. I typically don’t connect with characters when their story is told in the third person. However, The Wrath & the Dawn was narrated in such a way that it was difficult not to feel the characters’ emotions.

The secondary characters were also perfect additions to this story. Jalal (Captain of Khalid’s guard and his cousin) was a great companion to Khalid. Despina (Shahzad’s handmaiden) did a wonderful job of putting Shazi in her place. Even Tariq (Shahzad’s first love) contributes to the drama and intrigue of this story.

Overall, The Wrath & the Dawn was the perfect fictional journey to start off the New Year! It has become my newest YA Fantasy obsession, and I can’t wait to see what's next in the adventure.
4.5 Snowflakes

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Review: You Don't Know My Name (The Black Angel Chronicles #1) by Kristen Orlando

You Don't Know My Name (The Black Angel Chronicles, #1)You Don't Know My Name (The Black Angel Chronicles #1) by Kristen Orlando
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Release Date: January 10th, 2017
Purchase: Amazon
Fighter, Faker, Student, Spy.
Seventeen-year-old Reagan Elizabeth Hillis is used to changing identities overnight, lying to every friend she’s ever had, and pushing away anyone who gets too close. Trained in mortal combat and weaponry her entire life, Reagan is expected to follow in her parents’ footsteps and join the ranks of the most powerful top-secret agency in the world, the Black Angels. Falling in love with the boy next door was never part of the plan.
Now Reagan has to decide: Will she use her incredible talents and lead the dangerous life she was born into, or throw it all away to follow her heart and embrace the normal life she's always wanted? And does she even have a choice at all?
Find out if you are ready to join the Black Angels in the captivating and emotional page-turner, You Don't Know My Name, from debut novelist Kristen Orlando!

My Thoughts:
Imagine if your parents were the couple from the Mr. & Mrs. Smith movie.  You know the one with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie??  That's who Reagan has as parents and she is expected to follow in their secret agency footsteps.  Only Reagan isn't so sure she wants to live that kind of life after falling for the boy next door.

I've seen this premise in quite a few books lately and I won't lie I am intrigued by them all and have liked most of them that I have read.  This one however just missed the mark for me.  From the get go Reagan wasn't tough enough.  She states several times throughout the story that she has all this training, but we really don't get to see her stone cold side. Yes she fights a few fights, but in the end she failed to show that she was capable enough to handle dangerous situations.  That was one part that bugged me immensely.  I didn't mind that she questioned her future, in fact I liked it, but I didn't buy she was this child prodigy and that the agency couldn't wait for her to come of age.  Her decisions weren't great and she disregarded orders multiple times and put others in danger including someone who had to right to be there.  I was frustrated to say the least.

I actually liked the romance in this one.  I am a sucker for the boy next door/best friend line.  What I didn't like was what Reagan did after her and Luke's big moment.  I understood what she was trying to do, but what she did was unforgivable in my opinion and I almost threw the book out the window when that chapter hit. Communication is huge and I just wish she would have trusted her gut to at least tell him a bit about her life.  I know it was all hush hush, but come on.  That whole scene wasn't needed after chapters and chapters of her pinning for him and all the talk about her goosebumps when he was around.  If she could put a stop to things so fast, why even go down that road to begin with.  I would have rather watched her avoid anything personal from the get go then read what she did.

Those were my major gripes.  I still have a few minor ones, but I can live with the others.  Those two not so much.  This story ends not really in a cliff hanger, but you know there is more to come and I will read the next installment.  I am hoping to see Reagan gain some fierceness and I think she did by the end after the devastation that happened.  I am also hoping the agency either kicks her out or lets her take part because this whole on the outskirts thing is a bit annoying. They said she was the best, but yet they won't listen to her.  Frustrating!!  So much of this book was frustrating!!  Compared to other books I have read with this same plotline this one doesn't stand out which is a shame because it had great potential.

2 snowflakes


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Review: A Step Toward Falling by Cammie McGovern

A Step Toward Falling by Cammie McGovern
Published: October 6, 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen
Cammie McGovern follows up her breakout young adult debut, Say What You Will, with this powerful and unforgettable novel about learning from your mistakes, and learning to forgive. Told in alternating points of view, A Step Toward Falling is a poignant, hopeful, and altogether stunning work that will appeal to fans of Jennifer Nevin, Robyn Schneider, and Jandy Nelson.

Emily has always been the kind of girl who tries to do the right thing—until one night when she does the worst thing possible. She sees Belinda, a classmate with developmental disabilities, being attacked. Inexplicably, she does nothing at all.

Belinda, however, manages to save herself. When their high school finds out what happened, Emily and Lucas, a football player who was also there that night, are required to perform community service at a center for disabled people. Soon, Lucas and Emily begin to feel like maybe they're starting to make a real difference. Like they would be able to do the right thing if they could do that night all over again. But can they do anything that will actually help the one person they hurt the most?

My Thoughts
A Step Toward Falling by Cammie McGovern definitely carried a good concept and noble intentions, but I think the story lost its way somewhere towards the mid-point. I found myself trying to just finish it up with no real interest in the outcome at the end.

In this novel, we meet Emily and Lucas who are both high school students that witness a horrible act at a football game and fail to take action. When the school investigates the situation, Emily and Lucas are held accountable for not coming to Belinda’s aid, who also happens to be developmentally disabled. As retribution for their lack of response, they are both assigned to work with these students and during their service; they come to realize a growing issue that surrounds these kids' lack of access to school programs, jobs and overall understanding from their fellow students.

McGovern chose to share this story through dual POVs from both Emily and Belinda’s perspective, which I thought was a good choice for narrating the story. However, I would have like to hear Lucas's voice to gain his perspective as well. I really liked him as a character and to hear directly from him would have added some power to the narrative IMHO.

Overall, this light YA contemporary novel started off really well, but the execution and pacing wasn't quite strong enough to make this story stand out in any significant way. Not a huge disappointment, but not a hit IMO either.
3 Snowflakes

Monday, January 2, 2017

Blog Hop Giveaway: Comfy Cozy Reading Weather Giveaway Hop

Exciting news!! I'm here with another giveaway. However for this post, instead of a bundle of books, I wanted to join Valerie @Stuck in Books with the perfect giveaway hop that is featuring Comfy Cozy Reading Weather books and offer a bookish shopping spree. 

For a complete list of participating blogs click HERE. Our giveaway is open to our International readers! See below for details. 

Don't forget we also have our Follower Appreciation Giveaways running. 
Click HERE for a list of what we have available.

So what books are on my list of "Comfy Cozy Reading Weather" for the coming months? 
Here are a couple on my list for January 2017:
For our stop, we are giving away a US$10 gift card to either US Amazon, US Barnes & Noble OR up to a US$10 shopping spree to The Book Depository, so the giveaway is INTERNATIONAL as long as The Book Depository ships to your address. Be sure to fill out the rafflecopter for a chance to win! Don't forget to comment below and let us know what book you plan to cozy up with this winter!! We want to hear from you!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year from WinterHaven Books

WinterHaven Books would like to wish our bloggie friends and fellow readers a very Happy New Year!! We hope 2017 brings you happiness and good reads to treasure.

Happy New Year from WinterHaven Books!