Happy Monday!

Monday, February 29, 2016

Hello helloooooooo! I'm finally getting back into the swing of things. It took me a couple days to get used to actually wanting to read and blog, but now I'm back in action! I'm currently reading something that'll come off a litttle strange, since I'm reading it for fun (technically), so I wanted to explain.
My current WIP is an alternative historical fiction with some fantasy elements. I told myself that I would never write a story based on actual history events, and yet here I am, doing just that. It's scary! I thought for sure if I were to ever write something, it would be high fantasy, since I can just create my own world and culture and not need to reference anything and make sure I have my history correct. But NOPE. MY BRAIN AND IMAGINATION DECIDED TO BE DIFFICULT AND HERE I AM, TRYING TO TACKLE UNDERSTANDING ADOLF HITLER AND THE HOLOCAUST. *sighs deeply* Lucky for me, I like history and don't mind reading about it. Since I'm still in the beginning stages of developing my story, and don't want to tell you something that I could possible take out at a later date, I'll give you the two things that inspired me: The 2015 adaption of The Man From U.N.C.L.E., and Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin.

Read Last Week
A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro
Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella

Currently Reading
War and Genocide: A Concise History of the Holocaust by Doris L. Bergen

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin by Erik Larson

Happy readings :)
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A STUDY IN CHARLOTTE by Brittany Cavallaro review + giveaway!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: March 1st, 2016
Pages: 336
Song I Played While Reading: Learning For Your Love by Marcus Marr
Rating: 4.5 stars

The last thing sixteen-year-old Jamie Watson–writer and great-great-grandson of the John Watson–wants is a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school just an hour away from his estranged father. But that’s not the only complication: Sherringford is also home to Charlotte Holmes, the famous detective’s enigmatic, fiercely independent great-great-granddaughter, who’s inherited not just his genius but also his vices, volatile temperament, and expertly hidden vulnerability. Charlotte has been the object of his fascination for as long as he can remember–but from the moment they meet, there’s a tense energy between them, and they seem more destined to be rivals than anything else.

Then a Sherringford student dies under suspicious circumstances ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Holmes stories, and Jamie and Charlotte become the prime suspects. Convinced they’re being framed, they must race against the police to conduct their own investigation. As danger mounts, it becomes clear that nowhere is safe and the only people they can trust are each other.

Equal parts tender, thrilling, and hilarious, A Study in Charlotte is the first in a trilogy brimming with wit and edge-of-the-seat suspense.

I don't read much mystery, nor have I ever been a huge fan of Sherlock Holmes. People always tell me to watch the BBC TV show (which I kind of want to do now, after reading A STUDY IN CHARLOTTE), but the only Holmes-related thing I've ever watched is the Robert Downey Jr. movie, which I thought was fantastic. 
adored A STUDY IN CHARLOTTE. Seriously, this was so much fun! Reading this was as easy as breathing, as if I was right there in the story with our characters, racing to figure out this mystery. Charlotte and Jamie, or Holmes and Watson, were two characters that had a startlingly amount of depth to their relationship. Not only was it realistically written, with no witty one-liners layering every conversation or one trying hopelessly to flirt with the other, but they worked together. It's difficult to put into words, but everyone obviously knows the original Homles and Watson, right? To me, they were like that dynamic duo; they just fit together, occasionally balancing each other out, though most of the time getting on each other's nerves. Nothing was forced.
Jamie was loyal, kind, occasionally sentimental, and just an all-around great guy. He wasn't overly flirtatious and confident, like a lot of male leads are, but he also wasn't bland and whiny. He was created at the perfect middle ground. Charlotte was just an awe to be around, simply because of her brain and the way she thought. I can't fathom thinking the way she does. How the hell does one become so observant? That's a rhetorical question, since I know the answer to it, BUT STILL. SO JEALOUS. 
There was an underlying current of bleakness to the storyline that was oddly satisfying to me, mostly because I like my characters to have some level of understanding of how shitty the world can be. I'm not saying I don't like naive characters, but they can sometime be too fluffy, ya know? I want to see the dark side of people, especially with Charlotte. She had everything so finely tuned inside of her it was like talking to a robot. So when things finally starting coming up, I was grateful. 
Like I said earlier, the writing was smooth and super easy to read. I had no issues with it and thought it was strong for an author who was sort-of debuting her first YA novel. The storyline was intriguing and never once felt dull to me. I wasn't sure what was gonna happen next, since things progressed much more quickly than I had originally thought. It kept me on my toes. 
Overall, this was extremely fun and spunky! Anyone looking for a mystery novel, or anything related to Sherlock Holmes, will find this as an absolute treat. 

Favorite Quotes
"I belonged here, I thought, with her, as surely as anyone belonged anywhere.
As weird as here was.
Because there was just so much else crammed in that space, and any one part of would have made her Prime Suspect #1 in Every Murder Ever."

"Abbie turned around from the stove where she was making pancakes. "Oh no, Mal attack! Sorry about that. I wanted to let you sleep in."
I shrugged, juggling Malcom to my other arm. "It's okay, he was just saying hi. Have you seen Holmes? I need to find her, and kill her."

"Against the bright window, she was like a shadow gone abstract, the instrument tucked under her chin. She moved the bow with exquisite slowness. A high note, and then a languorous descent. 
She paused, mid-note, like some beautiful statue. It wrecked me, watching her."

"She patted me on the shoulder and took off down the path, leaving me behind, both charmed and insulted. The side effects of hanging around Charlotte Holmes."

 photo addtogoodreadssmall_zpsa2a6cf28.png photo B6096376-6C81-4465-8935-CE890C777EB9-1855-000001A1E900B890_zps5affbed6.jpg

Follow the A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro Blog Tour and don't miss anything! Click on the banner to see the tour schedule.

Brittany Cavallaro is a poet, fiction writer, and old school Sherlockian. She is the author of the poetry collection Girl-King (University of Akron) and is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship. She earned her BA in literature from Middlebury College and her MFA in poetry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Currently, she's a PhD candidate in English literature at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where she teaches creative writing, detective fiction, and lots of other things. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband, cat, and collection of deerstalker caps. Find her at her website, brittanycavallaro.com, or on Twitter @skippingstones.

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Happy Monday! And yes, I'm alive!!

Monday, February 22, 2016

OH MY GOD, YOU GUYS. Remember when I read books and blogged about them, and also posted on Instagram?? Yeah?? Because I don't. I've hit the mother-of-all book slumps, and it is ABSOLUTELY HORRIBLE. Not only is it a book slump, but it's also a blog slump. I don't want to read or blog about anything. I haven't even checked blogger since my last post. I'm so sorry, you guys! I surprisingly still had some views while I was gone, so at least I know y'all haven't completely ditched me.
I think the slump is finally coming to an end though, because here I am, blogging.


I also will be starting A STUDY IN CHARLOTTE by Brittany Cavallaro today! I don't read much mystery, so I'm very excited to start reading this. I'm visiting my friend at UCLA this weekend, so I plan on listening to at least one audiobook on the way there as well. Two would be fantastic, but I won't get my hopes up. Maybe I can salvage my February TBR after all? As for TRUTHWITCH by Susan Dennard, which was the poor book that I had been trying and failing to read during my slump, I stopped and put it aside for now. I only have maybe 100-150 pages left in it, so hopefully I can pick it up and finish it soon! It'll probably be 3.5 stars, since it started out really great, but lost its pace and purpose for me. All the politics and different types of witches (like the Carawen Monks and the Cahr Awen) got really confusing in the last half of the story and I wish things had been more cleared up. Maybe it will in the last quarter of the book! Let me know if you enjoyed TRUTHWITCH or A STUDY IN CHARLOTTE down in the comments! 
So, to recap:
  • I was in a horrible, life-ending slump for the past two weeks. TRUTHWITCH was the only casualty, which I hope to pick up again soon! 
  • I'm starting A STUDY IN CHARLOTTE by Brittany Cavallaro today.

Happy readings :)
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GUARDIANS by Josi Russell

Thursday, February 11, 2016

GUARDIANS by Josi Russell
Publisher: Future House Publishing
Publication Date: February 11th, 2016
Pages: 467
Song I Played While Reading: Greyhound by Swedish House Mafia
Rating: 5 stars

Trapped on a hostile planet.

Life on Minea isn’t all that the shiny brochures back on Earth promised the passengers of Ship 12-22. In order to survive, most of the population must slave away in the dark, unforgiving caverns of the Yyinum mines. 
Ethan’s position as governor proves to be less effective than he hoped as he clashes with the power-hungry companies that control the planet. While on a surveying ship, Ethan and the crew crash-land into the cavernous depths beneath the Karst Mountains, where a maze of tunnels and slew of fatal dangers block their journey home.
Above ground, a deadly epidemic sweeps the planet, and Ethan’s wife, Aria, is torn between searching the mountains for him and finding a cure. When a mysterious craft appears in the sky, Kaia and her father, Admiral Phillip Reagan, must prepare for a battle with a species they know nothing about.

As their world descends into chaos, can these self-appointed guardians bring hope of survival to Minea?

I'd like to thank Future House Publishing for sending me this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Wow, wow, WOW! That's literally all I can think right now. I thought CARETAKER was complex and intriguing, but GUARDIANS takes it to a whole new level. 
This was fanfuckingtastic. Russell pours her heart and soul into this incredible story, and it really shines through. Her characters are compassionate and have a startling amount of depth. The world is intricate and complex and rich in detail. For someone like me, who likes reading about the history of a world and everything there is to know about it's government, military, people, economy, and basically everything that makes up a country or planet... this was crazy delicious. 
As before, I had no idea where the plot line was going. It was so beautifully done, with a storyline that kept me hooked. Who's this new alien race? Where is this epidemic coming form? Why is there no cure? What's gonna happen to Ethan and the crew that crash-landed? There is so much more to GUARDIANS than just that, as well, which I loved. Keeping a summary a little vague gives the book so much more appeal when you're reading it and realizing how much they left out. It hooks you in! Everything was tied together flawlessly. I did struggle to push through in the beginning, but once I hit that 20% mark I was a goner. Donezo.
Russell's writing was also more developed and eloquent, which really made her characters stand out. Ethan and Kaia had that spark I felt they lacked in CARETAKER, and it made me care for them so much. I also ADORED Aria. Scratch that, I adored everyone, especially their children. I wish I could've pinched Rigel's cheeks! 
Everything was tied up nicely, all my questions answered, which is an incredible feat, considering this intricate storyline. Overall, besides the slow beginning, this was stunning! I highly, highly recommend picking these two books up. 

Both Caretaker and Guardians are $0.99 between now and February 17th on Amazon, so this is the perfect time to read it!
Guardians: http://amzn.to/1QnwdZ7
Caretaker: http://amzn.to/1Rjc3nU

Future House Publishing is also hosting two giveaways, one through Goodreads on February 15th, and a rafflecopter for 5 signed copies of Guardians and an audiobook of Caretaker. Here's the link to their websites! 
"It's just hard to compete with the Crystal Cavern," Ethan responded.
"That maybe have been the most beautiful thing I've ever seen." The wonder of it still resounded in Traore's voice.
"Not me," Ndaiye countered. "Sara is the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. Especially when she comes in from the Food Production Division and takes her hair down outta her helmet. Mmmmm," he sighed appreciatively."

"So we let them stay? It will be a war, Ethan. You realize that? A war with an opponent I can't even fathom. People will die."
Ethan looked him levelly in the eye. "We're all going to die, Phillip. Nobody knows that better than you and me." There was such a depth of pain in Ethan's eyes that Reagan had to look away to hold his own emotions in check. "We're all going to die, so we'd better live well while we have the chance." 
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Happy Monday!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Read Last Week
Caretaker by Josi Russell

Currently Reading
Guardians by Josi Russell

Stars Above by Marissa Meyer
Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Happy readings! :)
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CARETAKER by Josi Russell

Saturday, February 6, 2016

CARETAKER by Josi Russell
Publisher: Future House Publishing
Publication Date: September 2nd, 2015
Pages: 325
Song I Played While Reading: Greyhound by Swedish House Mafia
Rating: 4 stars

Fifty years in space—alone.

Ethan Bryant was supposed to fall asleep on a ship leaving Earth and wake up fifty years later with his family on the planet Minea. Instead, after the ship’s caretaker—the lone human in charge of monitoring the ship’s vital systems—suddenly died, the ship’s computer locked Ethan out of his stasis chamber and gave him the job. That was five years ago. Five years of checking to make sure everything runs smoothly on a ship Ethan knows almost nothing about.
Who wouldn’t dread the years ahead? Who wouldn’t long for their once-bright future now stolen away? 
Ethan is resigned to his fate, until the ship suddenly wakes up another passenger: a beautiful engineer who, along with Ethan, soon discovers a horrible secret—a navigation room hidden from even the ship’s computer. The ship is not bound for Minea—but to somewhere far more dangerous. 
With the ship nearing its sinister destination, Ethan soon learns he is the only one who holds the key to saving all 4,000 passengers from a highly-advanced, hostile alien race.

I'd like to thank Future Publishing House for giving me this novel in exchange for an honest review!

Sometimes you come across a gem, like CARETAKER, and you feel like running around screaming, "IF YOU LIKE SCI-FI, PLEASE READ THIS!" I didn't expect to enjoy it as much as I did. Russell's writing was clean and precise, pulling emotions out of me that I didn't think were there. The beginning was a little slow, and I didn't like Kaia at first. I thought she was a pretty bland character, with nothing special or redeeming. But apparently she crept up on me because, by the end, I was bawling over her. Seriously, ugly crying EVERYWHERE. 
Ethan was a little more personable, but still was lacking something like Kaia. It didn't bother me that much since this is a plot-driven book, and I was so enamored by this world Russell creates. Seriously, it's amazing. It's complex, beautiful, and engrossing. Not only do I think the whole idea of finding a new planet and living on it cool, but there's a whole freakin alien language in here. Yeah, that's right. AN ALIEN LANGUAGE AND SYMBOLS. I was mind blown. Ethan is a linguist, specializing in this dead-alien language, and he teaches Kaia the symbols and what they mean. I got a little lost, but I'm about as language-savvy as a brick wall, so that's not surprising. But I'm sure most people are able to get the gist of it, especially if you really put your brain to it.
Russell also does a fantastic job of dumbing down the engineering and genetics stuff in here, too. I was able to understand everything and I found it all to be endlessly fascinating. 
The plot line kept me on my toes, since I had no idea what to expect. The summary, I'm assuming, is intentionally vague, and it does wonders for the book. I never knew what was going to happen and I loved it. 
Overall, this was compelling and insanely fun, and I recommend any sci-fi lover out there check it out! 


"You're the only reason I would even consider it," she said. "The only reason I would leave this and go to the stars with." 

Picture and summary from goodreads 
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ELEMENTALS: THE PROPHECY OF SHADOWS by Michelle Madow + giveaway!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Publisher: Dreamscape Publishing
Publication Date: January 26th, 2015
Pages: 288
Song I Played While Reading: Nocturnal by Disclosure
Rating: 3.5 stars

Filled with magic, thrilling adventure, and sweet romance, Elementals: The Prophecy of Shadows is the first in a new series that fans of Percy Jackson and The Secret Circle will love!
When Nicole Cassidy moves from sunny Georgia to gloomy New England, the last thing she expects is to learn that her homeroom is a cover for a secret coven of witches. Even more surprisingly... she's apparently a witch herself. Despite doubts about her newfound abilities, Nicole is welcomed into this ancient circle of witches and is bedazzled by their powers- and, to her dismay, by Blake- the school's notorious bad boy.
Girls who get close to Blake wind up hurt. His girlfriend Danielle will do anything to keep them away, even if she must resort to using dark magic. But the chemistry between Blake and Nicole is undeniable, and despite wanting to protect Nicole from Danielle's wrath, he finds it impossible to keep his distance.
When the Olympian Comet shoots through the sky for the first time in three thousand years, Nicole, Blake, Danielle, and two others in their homeroom are gifted with mysterious powers. But the comet has another effect- it opens the port to the prison world that has contained the Titans for centuries. After an ancient monsters escapes and attacks Nicole and Blake, it's up to them and the others to follow the clues from a mysterious prophecy so that they can save their town... and possibly the world.

This was a really fun start to Madow's new series! I've never read any of her previous work, so I was eager to jump into her new world. Nicole was strong, albeit a little naive, and I really enjoyed reading from her POV. She was cute, honest, kind, and caring, always willing to listen to others and hear them out, but also confident in her gut instinct. It really made her stand out.
I surprisingly really liked Blake. He was not the bad boy I thought he'd be, and instead turned out to be sweet and fiercely protective of those he cares for. He really surprised me during a certain scene with him and Nicole in the cave. Hubba hubba! You sly guy, you.
The rest of their group was delightful, and I kept picturing Danielle as Jade West from Victorious. Super random, I know, but her hard exterior and wicked fashion reminded me of her. I had mixed feelings with her, since I thought she was an entitled brat, but she was a smart entitled brat. She literally was always piping up with useful information that helped the group in staying alive, so I had to grudgingly accept that yes, she's okay.
The plot line kept me hooked, with either lots of fascinating information on the witches background or Greek mythology (which I LOVE), or this mysterious prophecy they're trying to decipher, which takes up a good chunk of the book. Overall, this was a fast-paced and entertaining read that will be perfect for anyone who enjoys a superb blend of paranormal and Greek mythology!

Michelle is offering up a fabulous prize during her Elementals: The Prophecy of Shadows Virtual Tour event. One (1) lucky winner will receive a Kindle Fire 7”! To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter below: a Rafflecopter giveaway

About Michelle Madow:

Michelle Madow grew up in Baltimore, graduated Rollins College in Orlando, and now lives in Boca Raton, Florida. She wrote her first book in her junior year of college, and has been writing novels since. Some of her favorite things are: reading, pizza, traveling, shopping, time travel, Broadway musicals, and spending time with friends and family. Michelle has toured across America to promote her books and to encourage high school students to embrace reading and writing. Someday, she hopes to travel the world for a year on a cruise ship.

To get instant updates about Michelle's new books, subscribe to her newsletter and follow her on Amazon!

Connect with Michelle:  Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Instagram  |  Goodreads

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