Friday, September 23, 2016

This Adventure Ends Blog Tour: This Adventure Creates

Happy Friday Everyone!

It's been a tour kind of week this week, and I'm wrapping things up today with a very special tour for This Adventure Ends, the upcoming YA release from Emma Mills. A tour that involves Crayola markers and a teeny tiny canvas.

As part of the tour, a handful of us were asked to pick a verb to pair with "this adventure" and then create an artistic masterpiece (or not, as the case would be with me) that represents the theme we've chosen. Since I spend my days designing book covers, I went with "This Adventure Creates" as it so perfectly fits the job I love so very much.

As it turns out however, washable markers and canvas are not my medium, and my "masterpiece" turned out a little bit wonky. You see, I can't draw anything without sketching it out in pencil first, and when I went to color everything in, I quickly discovered that washable markers and pencil lines are not the best of friends. I had to stick with darker colors to try and hide the pencil otherwise I got a muddy mess, but oh well, I had fun with it anyway!

Behold the glory that is my "This Adventure Creates"!

Apparently my wand of creativity spews a bunch of upside down commas, who knew? O.o I hope you guys got a kick out of my piece and add This Adventure Ends to your must-have lists!

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Releases October 4th from Henry Holt & Co.

Sloane isn't expecting to fall in with a group of friends when she moves from New York to Florida—especially not a group of friends so intense, so in love, so all-consuming. Yet that's exactly what happens.

Sloane becomes closest to Vera, a social-media star who lights up any room, and Gabe, Vera's twin brother and the most serious person Sloane's ever met. When a beloved painting by the twins' late mother goes missing, Sloane takes on the responsibility of tracking it down, a journey that takes her across state lines—and ever deeper into the twins' lives.

Filled with intense and important friendships, a wonderful warts-and-all family, shiveringly good romantic developments, and sharp, witty dialogue, this story is about finding the people you never knew you needed.


Thursday, September 22, 2016

Frazzled Blog Tour: Interview + Giveaway

I'm crazy excited today to be a part of the promotional tour for Frazzled, the Middle Grade debut from Booki Vivat. Booki is an amazing artist, and her doodles have been blowing me away on Twitter for years, so I knew I needed this book in my hands the minute I learned of its existence. Booki was so nice as to answer a few questions for me about creative inspiration, fictional best friends, and of course her protagonist Abbie Wu, so I hope you guys all enjoy the interview!

If you could introduce yourself to readers in doodle-form only, what doodle might best sum you up as an author?

I think this pretty much sums me up—after all, my book is called Frazzled.

What’s one aspect of Abbie’s character that you absolutely share with her? One that’s nothing like you at all?

Honestly, I can’t think of anything significantly different between Abbie and I! So much of Abbie’s character is based on who I was when I was a kid and who I am now. I guess, getting down to the details, Abbie is a middle child, but growing up, I was technically the oldest!

I think anyone who has seen my doodles or knows me in real life gets the sense that Abbie and I are very similar. Beyond our shared resentment towards piñata birthday parties and insatiable love of pastries, Abbie and I can both be a little… dramatic. In fact, the inspiration for Frazzled came from an especially dramatic doodle I had drawn in a moment of crisis. It said, “I live my life in a constant state of impending doom.”
Spoiler alert: Abbie feels the same. 

Inspiration can strike at the oddest and most inconvenient times. Where’s the strangest place you’ve ever felt the need to make a few quick doodles or jot down ideas to save them for later? The strangest medium you’ve ever used when paper wasn’t available?

The strangest place I’ve ever felt the need to doodle was this one time I went out dancing with a group of (relative) strangers. It was such a strange scene and there were so many hilariously awkward and interesting interactions happening around me. I got caught up observing the social dynamics within the space and I had this itching need to document it somehow. That night, I went home and drew a series of doodles about the culture of “going out.”

I usually just stick to pen and paper which isn’t unusual at all, though where I get that paper can range anywhere from receipts to candy wrappers to toilet paper. Contrary to what “toilet paper” implies, I have never doodled on the toilet. 

If Abbie were to write a story about you, what title might she give it?

She would probably title it something verbose and cheeky like, (Still) Frazzled: The Constant Confusion and Unavoidable Uncertainty of Adulthood. Something like that. 

Every once in a while I come across a character whom I know would be my best friend (obviously) if they were real. What one other fictional character might Abbie find a best friend in?

Abbie is the kind of kid who could probably spend all her time in her own head and drive herself crazy, so she really needs friends who can coax her out of that. I think someone like Harriet M. Welsch from Louise Fitzhugh’s Harriet the Spy would make a fantastic best friend. They might have a rocky start to their friendship and it might take a while for them to warm up to each other. Harriet is a bit purposefully mischievous, whereas Abbie is more accidentally rebellious. But ultimately, Harriet’s sense of curiosity and unapologetic honesty is exactly what Abbie needs in a friend.

Thank you so much Booki!

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •


Meet Abbie Wu! She’s about to start middle school and she’s totally in crisis.

Abbie Wu is in crisis—and not just because she’s stuck in a family that doesn’t quite get her or because the lunch ladies at school are totally corrupt or because everyone seems to have a “Thing” except her. Abbie Wu is in crisis always.

Heavily illustrated and embarrassingly honest, Frazzled dives right into the mind of this hilariously neurotic middle school girl as she tries to figure out who she is, where she belongs, and how to survive the everyday disasters of growing up. With Abbie’s flair for the dramatic and natural tendency to freak out, middle school has never seemed so nerve-racking!

Packed with hilarious black-and-white illustrations and doodles throughout, Frazzled takes readers through Abbie Wu’s hysterical middle school adventures.

Amazon | B&N 

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Booki Vivat has been doodling somewhat seriously since 2011 and not-so-seriously since childhood. She grew up in Southern California and graduated from the University of California, San Diego. She currently works in publishing and lives in Brooklyn, New York. This is her first novel. Follow her on Twitter @thebookiv and on Instagram @bookibookibooki.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Metaltown Blog Tour: Guest Post + Giveaway

Today I have the very special honor of welcoming an author I get to call friend to the blog to celebrate the release of her newest YA book, Metaltown. I couldn't be more excited for this book or for Kristen as she is one of the most adorable people you'll ever meet, and I hope you guys all have this book on your lists! Since the world of Metaltown and its factories is a brutal one where the days are long and so very hard, I asked Kristen to help us put on protagonist Ty's shoes for a few minutes and walk her mile. 

Be sure and check out the bottom of the post for a complete list of the participating blogs so you can follow along, as well as all the details on a fantastic giveaway!


1. Don’t be a baby. You think your life’s tough? Try waking up before dawn every morning to get a bowl of mash at St. Mary’s, or working a double in a hot factory just to not get paid. First rule of factory life? Keep your mouth shut and your eyes open. You want a free ride you can go cross the beltway to Bakerstown.

2. Find someone who’s got your back. You look out for them, they look out for you. It’s that simple.

3. Don’t eat anything that hasn’t been tested. What are you, crazy? The stuff they sell on the streets in the factory district is flat out deadly. If you want the corn flu, by all means, give it a shot. Otherwise, stick to stuff you know is clean.

4. Don’t fight someone smaller than you. Don’t steal from your own people. I share my food with you, tomorrow you share yours with me. Those are street rules, got it?

5. Colin’s mine. Keep your hands off.
Noted, Ty. ;-)

Thanks so much Kristen!

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •


Metaltown, where factories rule, food is scarce, and hope is in short supply.

The rules of Metaltown are simple: Work hard, keep your head down, and watch your back. You look out for number one, and no one knows that better than Ty. She’s been surviving on the factory line as long as she can remember. But now Ty has Colin. She’s no longer alone; it’s the two of them against the world. That’s something even a town this brutal can’t take away from her. Until it does.

Lena’s future depends on her family’s factory, a beast that demands a ruthless master, and Lena is prepared to be as ruthless as it takes if it means finally proving herself to her father. But when a chance encounter with Colin, a dreamer despite his circumstances, exposes Lena to the consequences of her actions, she’ll risk everything to do what’s right.

In Lena, Ty sees an heiress with a chip on her shoulder. Colin sees something more. In a world of disease and war, tragedy and betrayal, allies and enemies, all three of them must learn that challenging what they thought was true can change all the rules.

An enthralling story of friendship and rebellion, Metaltown will have you believing in the power of hope.

Amazon | B&N 

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 


Kristen Simmons is the author of the ARTICLE 5 series, THE GLASS ARROW, and the upcoming METALTOWN (Tor Teen). She loves her family, Jazzercise, and chocolate cupcakes. She currently lives in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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Monday, September 19, 2016

Review: A Scot in the Dark

Scandal & Scoundrel #2
Sarah MacLean
Historical Romance
352 pages
Available Now
Source: Bought

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Lonesome Lily Turned Scandalous Siren

Miss Lillian Hargrove has lived much of her life alone in a gilded cage, longing for love and companionship. When an artist offers her pretty promises and begs her to pose for a scandalous portrait, Lily doesn't hesitate...until the lying libertine leaves her in disgrace. With the painting now public, Lily has no choice but to turn to the one man who might save her from ruin.

Highland Devil turned Halfhearted Duke

The Duke of Warnick loathes all things English, none more so than the aristocracy. It does not matter that the imposing Scotsman has inherited one of the most venerable dukedoms in Britain—he wants nothing to do with it, especially when he discovers that the unwanted title comes with a troublesome ward, one who is far too old and far too beautiful to be his problem.

Tartan Comes to Town

Warnick arrives in London with a single goal: get the chit married and see her become someone else's problem, then return to a normal, quiet life in Scotland. It's the perfect plan, until Lily declares she'll only marry for love...and the Scot finds that there is one thing in England he likes far too much...

Sarah MacLean's historical romances never disappoint, and we are again treated to her outstanding characterization in A Scot in the Dark as a vaguely Beauty and the Beast-esque pairing delights from beginning to end.

Aside from the fact that Lily's beauty is a bit overstated, coming up time and again throughout, she herself is only aware of it on the periphery, as something people say about her as though she's not flesh and blood but rather a set of symmetrical features perfectly placed to aesthetically pleasing results. She's neither fixated on her looks nor bolstered by them, instead we find ourselves faced with a young woman at her most vulnerable thanks to the charms of manipulative artist and a society that thrives on a double standard. Though she's lived an extraordinarily solitary life and is facing a scandal that has all of London foaming at the mouth, she refuses to allow Alec to walk all over her when he arrives to "handle" her predicament. She stands her ground when he seeks to hand her off to any titled man in desperate need of a substantial dowry, puts him in his place when necessary, and keeps her head up when the whispering and pointed looks follow her at any public function.

Alec plays a rather classic role in terms of romance heroes, convinced he's not worthy of Lily once he realizes he's attracted to her and willing to push her away at every turn in order to save her from sullying herself further with him. Despite that familiar trait though, he's still big, brawny, and of course Scottish, a lethal combination when it comes to making us swoon, and watching as his path paved with good intentions leads him to hell in the form of a fiery redhead who knows what she wants is nothing short of glorious.

Overall, A Scot in the Dark is a fun follow-up to The Rogue Not Taken, a beautifully vulnerable lead pair ensuring we're emotionally invested in their story, and the infamous Talbot sisters proving themselves to be scene-stealers in their secondary roles as we look forward to one of them stepping into the limelight next.

Rating; 4/5

Find Sarah:

Friday, September 16, 2016

Review + Giveaway: James and the Giant Peach

Happy Friday Everyone!

Today I have a very special review of James and the Giant Peach, my very favorite book by Roald Dahl. 2016 marks one hundred years since Roald Dahl's birth, so to celebrate Penguin has put together an epic blog tour full of reviews, excerpts, trivia and more, so be sure and check the bottom of the post for the full schedule!

Roal Dahl
Middle Grade/Fantasy/Adventure
146 pages
Puffin Books
Available Now
Source: Finished copy from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
When James accidentally drops some magic crystals by the old peach tree, strange things start to happen. The peach at the top of the tree begins to grow, and before long it's as big as a house. When James discovers a secret entranceway into the fruit and crawls inside, he meets wonderful new friends--the Old-Green-Grasshopper, the dainty Ladybug, and the Centipede of the multiple boots. After years of feeling like an outsider in his aunts' house, James finally found a place where he belongs. With a snip of the stem, the peach household starts rolling away--and the adventure begins!

Roald Dahl's first and most widely celebrated book for young people continues to thrill readers around the world.

James and the Giant Peach is the first book I can remember reading on my own. I'm sure I read shorter children's books on my own and I know my parents read to me all the time, but this is the first book I can remember choosing for myself and then settling into the corner of our couch to read. It doesn't take a huge mental leap to attribute my love for all things paranormal and fantastical when it comes to fiction to James and his group of extraordinary friends.

It had been a solid twenty years since I'd read this book, and I'd quite honestly forgot how brutal it was. James is orphaned in the first few pages thanks to a freak rhinoceros accident, and subsequently moves in with an abusive pair of aunts who treat him like nothing more than dirt beneath their feet for years. Thankfully fate–and magic–intervenes in the form of small green crystals that cause a peach to grow to enormous size, break free from its branch, and carry young James and his human-sized insect friends off on an overseas adventure. Oh, and his aunts are squished dead by the peach as it rolls down a hill. Brutal indeed.

James is a resilient young man, enduring the verbal abuse and threats of physical violence from his aunts with a strength no person should have to develop at so young an age. Once free from his life of labor under his aunts' watchful eyes, he proves himself to be a problem solver under pressure, helping his newfound friends survive the journey to New York in terms of food as well as keeping their mode of transportation safe from those beasts, real and paranormal, that try to bring them down or impede their progress.

In addition to an over-the-top fun adventure, Mr. Dahl also works in some tidbits and facts about each of the insects aboard the peach, letting all those who read walk way with just a little extra knowledge than they had when they cracked the spine. Overall, James and the Giant Peach remains an outstanding read no matter the age of the reader, and it will forever be one of my very favorites.


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Roald Dahl (1916–1990) was one of the world’s most imaginative, successful and beloved storytellers. He was born in Wales of Norwegian parents and spent much of his childhood in England. After establishing himself as a writer for adults with short story collections such as Kiss Kiss and Tales of the Unexpected, Roald Dahl began writing children's stories in 1960 while living with his family in both the U.S. and in England. His first stories were written as entertainment for his own children, to whom many of his books are dedicated.

Roald Dahl’s first children’s story, The Gremlins, was a story about little creatures that were responsible for the various mechanical failures on airplanes. The Gremlins came to the attention of both First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, who loved to read the story to her grandchildren, and Walt Disney, with whom Roald Dahl had discussions about the production of a movie.

Roald Dahl was inspired by American culture and by many of the most quintessential American landmarks to write some of his most memorable passages, such as the thrilling final scenes in James and the Giant Peach - when the peach lands on the Empire State Building! Upon the publication of James and the Giant Peach, Roald Dahl began work on the story that would later be published as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and today, Roald Dahl’s stories are available in 58 languages and, by a conservative estimate, have sold more than 200 million copies.

Roald Dahl also enjoyed great success for the screenplays he wrote for both the James Bond film You Only Live Twice in 1967 and for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, released one year later, which went on to become a beloved family film.  Roald Dahl’s popularity continues to increase as his fantastic novels, including James and the Giant Peach, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Matilda, The BFG, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, delight an ever-growing legion of fans.

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September 5 Peace Loves Books - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Excerpt
September 5 - The Compulsive Reader - Danny, The Champion of the World Review 
September 5 - The Starry Eyed Revue - James and The Giant Peach Review
September 6 - Ex Libris Kate - The Witches Review
September 6 - Cracking The Cover - The Magic Finger Feature - Short Review and History 
September 6 - Lost In Lit - The Witches Feature - Revisiting The Witches as an adult 
September 7 - Cozy Reading Corner - Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator Excerpt 
September 7 - The Plot Bunny - The Magic Finger Review 
September 7 - Lilli's Reflections - The Twits Excerpt 
September 8 - The Irish Banana - Matilda Review 
September 8 - Ticket To Anywhere - Danny, The Champion of the World Excerpt
September 8 - Cuddlebuggery - Quentin Blake's Illustrations of Roald Dahl's Books Feature
September 8 - Beth Fish Reads - Going Solo Review 
September 9 -  Ravenous Reader - The BFG Excerpt 
September 9 - Paper Cuts - The Giraffe, the Pelly and Me Excerpt 
September 9 - The Lovely Books - The Witches Excerpt 
September 9 - A Glass of Wine - James and the Giant Peach Excerpt
September 10 - Novel Novice - George's Marvelous Medicine Excerpt 
September 10 - YA Bibliophile - Fantastic Mr. Fox Review
September 10 - Watercolor Moods - The Magic Finger Feature - Collage
September 11- Jessabella Reads - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Review 
September 11- Who R U Blog - Charlie and the Glass Elevator Feature - Trivia
September 12 - Belle of the Library - The Twits Review 
September 12 - Book Mania Life - George's Marvelous Medicine Review 
September 12 - The Book Swarm - Danny, The Champion of the World Excerpt 
September 12 - Book Belles - James and the Giant Peach Feature - Book to Movie
September 13- Roald's birthday! - Brittany's Book Rambles - Matilda Excerpt 
September 13 - Roald's birthday! - Mundie Kids - The BFG Review
September 13 - Roald's birthday! - Read Now Sleep Later - Boy Excerpt
September 13 - Roald's birthday - Consumed By Books - Matilda Excerpt 
September 13 - Roald's birthday - I Am A Reader - James and the Giant Peach Excerpt 
September 13 - The Novel Life Lessons that Roald Dahl has taught me feature
September 13 - The Book Rat - Esio Trot Excerpt
September 14 - Belle's Bash - The BFG Excerpt
September 14 - WinterHaven Books - Esio Trot Excerpt 
September 14 - A Book and A Latte - The Magic Finger Excerpt
September 14 - Hello Chelly - Matilda Feature - BookBags
September 14 - Loving Dem Books - Youtube Feature
September 15 - Writing My Own Fairy-Tale - George's Marvelous Medicine Review 
September 15 - The Book Bandit -The Giraffe, and the Pelly and Me Review
September 15 - Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile - Esio Trot Review
September 15 - Coffee, Books and Me - Top Ten Reasons You Should Read Roald Dahl's Books
September 16Undeniably Book Nerdy - Boy Review 
September 16Supernatural Snark - James and the Giant Peach Review 
September 16My Friend Amy - Going Solo Excerpt 
September 16The Quiet Concert - Danny, the Champion of the World Review 
September 17Book Briefs - Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator 
September 17Andi's ABCs - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Feature - ABCs
September 17Just Another Rabid Reader - The Magic Finger Review 
September 17Adventures of Cecelia Bedelia - Roald Dahl Feature - Food Feature
September 18Bumbles and Fairy-Tales - Matilda Feature - Reading With Dad
September 18Addicted 2 Novels - Esio Trot Review 
September 18Pure Imagination - Fantastic Mr. Fox Excerpt 
September 18Green Bean Teen Queen What Roald Dahl Means To Me Feature
September 19Bookiemoji - The Witches Excerpt 
September 19Shooting Stars Blog - Roald Dahl Feature - Etsy Products
September 19 -  Alexa Loves Books - Matilda Feature - Style Files
September 19Nightly Reading - Matilda Review

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Review: The Soldier's Scoundrel

Cat Sebastian
M/M Historical Romance
352 pages
Available September 20th
Source: eARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
A scoundrel who lives in the shadows

Jack Turner grew up in the darkness of London's slums, born into a life of crime and willing to do anything to keep his belly full and his siblings safe. Now he uses the tricks and schemes of the underworld to help those who need the kind of assistance only a scoundrel can provide. His distrust of the nobility runs deep and his services do not extend to the gorgeous high-born soldier who personifies everything Jack will never be.

A soldier untarnished by vice

After the chaos of war, Oliver Rivington craves the safe predictability of a gentleman's life-one that doesn't include sparring with a ne'er-do-well who flouts the law at every turn. But Jack tempts Oliver like no other man has before. Soon his yearning for the unapologetic criminal is only matched by Jack's pleasure in watching his genteel polish crumble every time they're together.

Two men only meant for each other

The Soldier's Scoundrel is a delightful M/M historical romance, both our heroes strong and vulnerable at the same time as they navigate their fledgling relationship as well as attempt to unravel a case of blackmail.

Jack Turner is very decidedly not a gentleman. He merits no invitations to balls or any other kind of polite Society function, and he's all the more glad for it. His comfort zone is one a little less in the limelight and a little more in the shadows, helping those the law isn't always able to with a devil-may-care grin on his face. When he's given little other choice than to team up with Oliver, the very definition of a Gentleman, he does so grudgingly, and we're treated to a mildly antagonistic relationship that simmers with more than a little heat. He of course holds Oliver's status as the son of an earl against him, but does so in a flirtatious manner that often takes the sting out of his words, and as he begins to see the man behind the title, he thankfully doesn't fight too hard to let it be an insurmountable obstacle between them.

Oliver, for his part, can't assign many positive attributes to Jack initially either, intent on proving Jack's way of "helping" people involves much darker deeds than it actually does, and finding it hard to trust that what he sees with Jack is what he gets. The two of them together are a delicious tangle of banter and chemistry, pushing each other's buttons on purpose just to incite a reaction but never going so far as to cause unnecessary drama or angst. Though this pair isn't overly chatty when it comes to their feelings, they don't shy away from them either, communicating effectively when things go amiss and remedying the various disagreements and missteps before hurt feelings have time to fester.

Overall, The Soldier's Scoundrel is a joy of a historical romance from beginning to end, giving us a memorable couple, plenty of tension sexual and otherwise, and of course the desired happy ending to top it all off.

Rating: 4/5

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.