Thursday, July 28, 2016

Review: The Gilded Cage

Lucinda Gray
Young Adult/Historical/Mystery
256 pages
Henry Holt
Available August 2nd
Source: ARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (From Goodreads)
After growing up on a farm in Virginia, Walthingham Hall in England seems like another world to sixteen-year-old Katherine Randolph. Her new life, filled with the splendor of upper-class England in the 1820s, is shattered when her brother mysteriously drowns. Katherine is expected to observe the mourning customs and get on with her life, but she can't accept that her brother's death was an accident.

A bitter poacher prowls the estate, and strange visitors threaten the occupants of the house. There's a rumor, too, that a wild animal stalks the woods of Walthingham. Can Katherine retain her sanity long enough to find out the truth? Or will her brother's killer claim her life, too?

The Gilded Cage is a quick, easy read, whisking us off to a sprawling state in England where greed runs rampant, secrets lurk in every dark corner, and rumors of a beast lurking in the woods abound.

Katherine knows nothing of Society life, spending her days working her family's farm in Virginia until an unexpected inheritance has her trading her dirt-stained hands for white lace gloves. Given her upbringing she's incredibly down to earth, the extravagances of life at Walthingham foreign to her on every level, and the rules of conduct for young ladies lost on her in the best possible way. She's not afraid to speak her mind or display traits and talents considered unbecoming for someone of her gender and station, and we can't help but love her all the more for refusing to conform.

While there's a lot to love about Katherine, her affections are a bit more easily won than we might like, her interest flitting from a footman to the family's estate lawyer with relative ease, with neither relationship moving beyond surface level. The plot bounces around in much the same way, giving us what at first appears to be a paranormal storyline as the staff and locals whisper of the Beast of Walthingham, but before we can settle in for some quality time with the supernatural, we switch gears to a murder mystery and finally find ourselves walking the halls of a mental institution. It's not as though these separate plot points aren't tied together however–they are and the story itself flows well enough–there's just so much that could have been explored with each one, but instead of getting to peel back layers and really dig in, we switch gears and head off in a different direction.

Overall though, The Gilded Cage is a solid read in terms of entertainment value, a perfect palette-cleansing type of read that keeps us interested even if we don't close the back cover and immediately add it to our shelf of favorites.

Rating: 3.5/5

Find Lucinda:

This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: The Last Magician

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking The Spine and is a fun way to see what books other bloggers just can't wait to get their hands on!

Lisa Maxwell
Young Adult/Fantasy
Releases April 2017 from Simon Pulse

From Goodreads:

Stop the Magician.
Steal the book.
Save the future.

In modern day New York, magic is all but extinct. The remaining few who have an affinity for magic—the Mageus—live in the shadows, hiding who they are. Any Mageus who enters Manhattan becomes trapped by the Brink, a dark energy barrier that confines them to the island. Crossing it means losing their power—and often their lives.

Tessa is a talented thief, and she's been raised to steal magical artifacts from the sinister Order that created the Brink. With her innate ability to manipulate time, Tessa can pilfer from the past, collecting these artifacts before the Order even realizes she’s there. And all of Tessa’s training has been for one final job: traveling back to 1901 to steal an ancient book containing the secrets of the Order—and the Brink—before the Magician can destroy it and doom the Mageus to a hopeless future.

But Old New York is a dangerous world ruled by ruthless gangs and secret societies, a world where the very air crackles with magic. Nothing is as it seems, including the Magician himself. And for Tessa to save her future, she may have to betray everyone in the past.

You guys. LOOK AT THAT COVER! It's gorgeous. A glorious, creepified version of The Neverending Story ouroboros, and it makes my little designer (and reader) heart happy. If the cover wasn't enough to sell me on this one (sidenote: it was), the synopsis sealed the deal with all its talk of magical artifacts, time travel and secret societies. Tessa sounds like she has an epic adventure ahead of her and I want in!


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Cathy Reviews: A Trio of Mysteries

My mother in law Cathy is back today with some mini reviews from her very favorite genre: mystery!

Aurora Teagarden #9
Charlaine Harris
Cozy Mystery
240 pages
Minotaur Books
Available Now
Source: Bought

My reading weakness is mysteries – all mysteries. I use them as a palette cleanser between my book club books which tend to be heavier reads. I love the set formula of the mystery, and most often I choose ones that have a strong woman as the main crime solver. I received several new mysteries at BEA and they were all great reads. I thought I would share them with you.

All the Little Liars is the newest Aurora Teagarden mystery by Charlaine Harris. This is a cozy mystery series. Aurora is a librarian that has a knack for getting caught up in murders. This time her brother is missing along with several other teens from town. I love this format because Aurora rushes reckless into danger in the effort to solve the crime. This book lives up to its title, you never know who is telling the truth!

Kerri Maniscalco
YA Mystery/Historical
336 pages
Jimmy Patterson
Available September 20th
Source: BEA

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco was one my wish list for BEA. The unsolved murders by Jack the Ripper have been the source for many a mystery. Ms. Maniscalco has a fresh new take on the mystery in her first YA novel. Audrey Rose resists her Victorian role in life by secretly working for her uncle doing forensic autopsies. She is smart and headstrong in an era where girls should look pretty and think only of marriage. Through her involvement with her uncle, Audrey Rose becomes obsessed with finding the Ripper. This leads her into many dangerous situations and conclusions that could wreck her world. And like any good YA novel there is a hint at a budding romance.  This is a page turner and needs to be added to your reading list.


Mary Kubica
320 pages
Available Now
Source: BEA

Don't You Cry by Mary Kubica is a must-read. There are certain authors I always look to see if they have a new release, and ever since I was first introduced to Ms. Kubica at BEA several years ago, she is at the top of the list. I was very happy to see this book this year. Ms. Kubica's books are  psychological thrillers. She knows how to extend the suspense and we just hold our breath throughout the entire book. In this book, we learn all about the main character from two different viewpoints, neither of which is the main character's voice. The mystery is revealed and unfolds all around Esther. Ms. Kubica truly understands how the mind works and how we can get carried away in our own imagination. This makes is hard to tell what is real and what is imagined. This story keeps you guessing until the very end. I couldn't put it down.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Reliquary Blog Tour: Interview + Giveaway

Happy Friday Everyone! Today I'm thrilled to welcome author Sarah Fine back to the blog to answer a few questions about her newest release, Reliquary. As you guys already know, I'm obsessed with everything Sarah writes so I couldn't be more excited for this new book! I hope you guys enjoy the interview and be sure to check the bottom of the post for all the details on a fun giveaway as well as the full list of blogs participating in Sarah's tour. 

The magic in this world has a darker edge, working like a drug and addicting those who use it. If you were able to take a group of readers and cross from our reality into this world, what are three things you would make sure they knew about magic before going in?

1. Ekstazo (pleasure) magic can be as dangerous as Knedas (manipulation) magic. Don't make the mistake of thinking it's harmless.

2. Pain can be your friend. Especially if you encounter a Knedas in a dark alley.

3. If you are carrying the slightest whiff of magic on you, Asa will know.

If Mattie could describe brothers Ben and Asa using only one word, what word would she pick for each of them, and would they agree with what she's chosen?

For Ben: Perfect
Ben's response: Of course I'm not perfect! I'm perfectly imperfect.

Asa's response: *smirk* Shut the fuck up. 

If Mattie's world hadn't suddenly changed with Ben's disappearance, what part of planning her wedding would have been her favorite?

Wedding favors! Mattie loves the idea of planning a gift for her guests that both makes them happy AND represents how intensely ideal her life with Ben is and will be. 

I have a sneaking suspicion that Asa might make his way onto more than a few book boyfriend lists. Who would top Mattie's list of book boyfriends?

What she will tell you: Darcy from Pride and Prejudice. Edward from Twilight.
Who she's intrigued, frightened, and turned on by all at once (but will never admit it out loud): Jericho Barrons.

*Jenny excited flails at the mention of Barrons. MINE MATTIE*
Looking forward to book two, as a fun little teaser, what color would you say most accurately represents the events that take place?

Probably red. There is so much turmoil, upheaval, and pain for Mattie in Splinter, and so much ferocity and intensity from Asa, but also something very fundamental and necessary happening for both of them ... I think red might capture it. All that said, Splinter is one of the more humorous books I've ever written!

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions Sarah!

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •


Mattie Carver’s engagement party should have marked the start of her own personal fairy tale. But when her fiancé, Ben, is violently abducted the next morning, her desperate quest to find him rips her away from small-town life and reveals a shattering truth: magic is real—and Ben is hooked. It’s not the stuff of storybooks. It’s wildly addictive, capable of producing everything from hellish anguish to sensual ecstasy almost beyond human endurance.

Determined to find out who took Ben and why, Mattie immerses herself in a shadowy underworld and comes face-to-face with the darkly alluring Asa Ward, a rogue magic dealer, infamous hustler…and her missing fiancé’s estranged brother. Asa has the power to sense magic, and he realizes Mattie is a reliquary, someone with the rare ability to carry magic within her own body, undetected. Asa agrees to help find Ben on one condition: Mattie must use her uncommon talent to assist his smuggling operations. Now, from magic-laced Vegas casinos to the netherworld clubs of Bangkok, Mattie is on a rescue mission. With Asa by her side, she’ll face not only the supernatural forces arrayed against her but the all-too-human temptation that she fears she can’t resist.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •


Sarah Fine is a clinical psychologist and the author of the Servants of Fate and Guards of the Shadowlands series. She was born on the West Coast, raised in the Midwest, and is now firmly entrenched on the East Coast.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •


Three lucky winners will each receive a finished copy of Reliquary! To enter, please fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Giveaway is open to US/Canada only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Thursday, July 21, 2016

Review: How To Hang A Witch

Adriana Mather
Paranormal Young Adult
368 pages
Knopf Books for Young Readers
Available Now
Source: BEA

Salem, Massachusetts is the site of the infamous witch trials and the new home of Samantha Mather. Recently transplanted from New York City, Sam and her stepmother are not exactly welcomed with open arms. Sam is the descendant of Cotton Mather, one of the men responsible for those trials and almost immediately, she becomes the enemy of a group of girls who call themselves The Descendants. And guess who their ancestors were?

If dealing with that weren't enough, Sam also comes face to face with a real live (well technically dead) ghost. A handsome, angry ghost who wants Sam to stop touching his stuff. But soon Sam discovers she is at the center of a centuries old curse affecting anyone with ties to the trials. Sam must come to terms with the ghost and find a way to work with the Descendants to stop a deadly cycle that has been going on since the first accused witch was hanged. If any town should have learned its lesson, it's Salem. But history may be about to repeat itself.

How to Hang Witch gives us a look at how quickly mass hysteria can build and mob mentality can take over, and though it's not a story meant to be a profound examination of current affairs through the lens of the past, it's something that deeply resonates nonetheless given the tragic events around the world this year.

While we can't help but draw comparisons between the prejudice and hatred running rampant in Salem during the witch trials with that of today, this story also gives us an intriguing family curse to try and solve right alongside Sam and the mean girls clique that is the Descendants. The mystery surrounding the families with direct ties to the trials is well done, small clues given here and there to keep us interested, with Ms. Mather mixing just enough history with the paranormal to have us itching to do more in depth research once we close the back cover.

Though unraveling the family curse makes for the rapid turning of pages, older readers of YA like myself will likely find themselves needing to channel their inner teenager with regards to Sam, trying to see her fiery temper, snap judgements and impressive ability to push people away with a few cruel words through our younger eyes in order to keep from getting overly frustrated. In addition to Sam's youthful drama we also have a love triangle in which one point of said triangle is dead while the other two are living, and a group of high school girls who are a bit over the top in terms of nastiness, making it a bit hard to really settle in character-wise.

That being said though, those looking for something more story-driven than character-driven will likely appreciate this as a quick read and a fascinating take on a tragic event in our history, made even more so due to the author's direct link to Cotton Mather.

Rating: 3/5

Find Adriana:

This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: Etched in Bone

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking The Spine and is a fun way to see what books other bloggers just can't wait to get their hands on!

The Others #5
Anne Bishop
Urban Fantasy
Releases March 2017 from ROC

From Goodreads:

New York Times bestselling author Anne Bishop returns to her world of the Others, as humans struggle to survive in the shadow of shapeshifters and vampires far more powerful than themselves…

After a human uprising was brutally put down by the Elders—a primitive and lethal form of the Others—the few cities left under human control are far-flung. And the people within them now know to fear the no-man’s-land beyond their borders—and the darkness…

As some communities struggle to rebuild, Lakeside Courtyard has emerged relatively unscathed, though Simon Wolfgard, its wolf shifter leader, and blood prophet Meg Corbyn must work with the human pack to maintain the fragile peace. But all their efforts are threatened when Lieutenant Montgomery’s shady brother arrives, looking for a free ride and easy pickings.

With the humans on guard against one of their own, tensions rise, drawing the attention of the Elders, who are curious about the effect such an insignificant predator can have on a pack. But Meg knows the dangers, for she has seen in the cards how it will all end—with her standing beside a grave.

SIMON AND MEG YOU GUYS! They have fast become one of my favorite almost-couples, and I'm hoping this is the book where we finally get to see them together. *rubs hands together in gleeful anticipation* I have to admit that I don't love the sound of Montgomery's shady brother, he's clearly going to cause all sorts of problems, but the Others always handle their business so I know he'll get what's coming to him. Also? That last line terrifies me. I don't want to lose any of my beloved Others! *sobs just thinking about it*