Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Tracy Reviews: Eeny Meeny

Today I'm excited to welcome my sister-in-law Tracy back to the blog to share her latest review! Thanks so much for taking on Eeny Meeny :-)

Helen Grace #1
M.J. Arlidge
432 pages
Available Now
Source: Finished copy from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Two people are abducted, imprisoned, and left with a gun. As hunger and thirst set in, only one walks away alive.

It’s a game more twisted than any Detective Helen Grace has ever seen. If she hadn’t spoken with the shattered survivors herself, she almost wouldn’t believe them.

Helen is familiar with the dark sides of human nature, including her own, but this case—with its seemingly random victims—has her baffled. But as more people go missing, nothing will be more terrifying than when it all starts making sense...

Before you read this review and take my opinion into consideration, I need to explain a few things about me. I love the show Criminal Minds - even though most episodes creep me out. I have been known to binge watch the ID channel for weekends at a time. When Jenny asked me to review this serial killer thriller, I jumped at the chance!

Mr. Arlidge sets a fast pace in his first book in the Helen Grace series. He throws us into the terrifying first murder immediately, never wasting a minute to drag us into the darkness of a very 'Saw-like' scenario. I had a very difficult time putting this book down, and could not wait for the next plot twist and intense sinister scene.

That being said, not everyone will love Eeny Meeny. The chapters are extremely short - some are not even one full page in length. Each chapter brings a different point of view, so some readers may not enjoy all of the switching. I liked all of the POV changes, and never once felt it caused any backtracking in the story - it always progressed very quickly.

The main character, Detective Inspector Helen Grace, was fascinating, but was not necessarily the most likeable character. She becomes more likeable as the book progresses and Mr. Arlidge does a great job uncovering her background in the later half of the book to help us reconcile her less appealing side. While we do not exactly like Helen - we do admire her strength and determination in her work. Helen Grace's team is full of great characters - most notably Mark and Charlie - who are both flawed but likeable and relatable.

Overall, Eeny Meeny is a dark and disturbing read, with plenty of action and surprises. Those that are intrigued by the psychological aspect of this book will look past some of the graphic violence that accompanies it. The twist and turns in Eeny Meeny definitely makes it worthwhile. I look forward to reading more Helen Grace mysteries to come.

Rating: 4/5

Find M.J.

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, or in this case Tracy's, honest opinion.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Review: Court of Fives

Court of Fives #1
Kate Elliott
Young Adult/Fantasy
448 pages
Little, Brown BFYR
Available August 18th
Source: ARC from NOVL Newsletter

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
In this imaginative escape into an enthralling new world, World Fantasy Award finalist Kate Elliott begins a new trilogy with her debut young adult novel, weaving an epic story of a girl struggling to do what she loves in a society suffocated by rules of class and privilege.

Jessamy's life is a balance between acting like an upper class Patron and dreaming of the freedom of the Commoners. But at night she can be whomever she wants when she sneaks out to train for The Fives, an intricate, multi-level athletic competition that offers a chance for glory to the kingdom's best competitors. Then Jes meets Kalliarkos, and an unlikely friendship between a girl of mixed race and a Patron boy causes heads to turn. When a scheming lord tears Jes's family apart, she'll have to test Kal's loyalty and risk the vengeance of a powerful clan to save her mother and sisters from certain death.

Court of Fives is one of those stories that needs to be read in small doses, not because it's lacking in elements that hold our interest, but rather because the world and some of the people in it are so appalling we can't bear to be in their presence for long periods of time. Ms. Elliott gives us a society in which women are the lowest of the low, daughters often killed or sent away because they're not everything a son would be, and adult women bricked up alive in tombs with the body of their lord or prince to keep him company in the afterlife. It's a brutal world, one that makes our blood boil at the injustice of the class system, but Ms. Elliott doesn't leave us alone to fume in our anger, providing us with a young heroine who plays the game of life and death so very well.

Jessamy has dreamed of competing in the Fives–a sporting even of sorts in which contestants run an obstacle course and can eventually move up the ranks to achieve fame and fortune–for years, and it's easy to root for her to achieve this one goal when everything else in her life is falling apart. She's strong-willed, smart and unafraid to make her feelings known despite the fact that her voice is viewed as worthless by this society at large, and she proves to be a highlight in an otherwise dark and heavy world.

While Jessamy is a strong character, and one whom by the end has us itching to see how she's going to handle the latest blow she's been dealt, the structure of the story itself seems to fall apart as Jessamy's journey continues. We're led to believe thanks to the first half that after a horrific separation from her family, we're going to follow her as she trains in an official stable for the Fives, but just as she becomes a cog in a political machine she wants no part of, we leave the stable and embark on a completely different and drawn-out adventure. It almost feels as though an entirely separate novella in which Jessamy sets out to bring her family back together exists in the middle of this tale, and we're returned to the world of the Fives with only a few chapters remaining. The details of her training and the complexity of the politics surrounding the Fives are discussed only in short random bursts, depriving of us of the in-depth look at what we previously assumed would be the most dominant aspect of the story.

Additionally, the romance between Jes and well-out-of-her-social-league Lord Kalliarkos is lacking in the same substance as the Fives, their relationship one of hesitant friendship (which is great) before things like holding hands and kissing are casually thrown in without much build-up or aftermath. We remain purely on the surface despite the potential for something painfully spectacular to exist between them, leaving us without some of the obsessive anticipation we'd hoped to feel after the turn of the last page. Ms. Elliott does delight with her villainous character however, a man so righteously loathesome we can feel our lips curl involuntarily whenever he appears on page, and we can't help but long for the moment when Jessamy puts him in his place.

Overall Court of Fives is a bit of a rocky start to this series, but a strong heroine and a political world hateful enough to have us taking short breaks as we read make the sequel something to look forward to.

Rating: 3.5/5

Find Kate:

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.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Friday Flourish: Black Heart, Red Ruby

Happy Friday Everyone!

I'm super excited today to share another of my recent cover designs, this one for author Teresa Yea who I had the privilege of working with on Love in a Time of Monsters. Teresa never fails to come to me with a project that makes me positively giddy at the thought of working on it, and given how madly in love I was with the way Monsters came together I couldn't wait to team up with her again on her newest release, Black Heart, Red Ruby.

Black Heart, Red Ruby is contemporary gothic horror, so we originally discussed a design that would be dark in nature–lots of blacks and reds combining to create a bold, heavy look–with the heroine as a focal point. After submitting the first round of idea boards, Teresa and I ended up back at the drawing board, realizing the direction in which we'd been heading just wasn't suiting the story the way we'd hoped.

We came to the conclusion that we needed to simplify, keeping the design very graphic, type-driven, and full of grit and texture. You guys already know how obsessed I am with typography, so I couldn't be happier with how the final design turned out. I hope you all love it and decide to add it to your reading lists!

(releases June 30th)

Ava Nolan grew up in the shadow of her father's obsession with macabre artifacts. An elixir brewed from witches’ blood. A cabinet of mummified cats. And Arabella's Curse, the missing prize in his collection: a ruby with the power to resurrect the dead. With a father who resents her existence, a dead-end job, and her expulsion from school to live down, Ava sets out to recover the ruby and reclaim her self-respect. Luckily for Ava, local legend says the ruby is buried in a crumbling mansion by the sea, not far from her new home.

But life as an amateur relic hunter is not without its share of emergency room visits. Or cutthroat competitors. And nearly plummeting to her death doesn’t terrify Ava half as much as her uncle, a gentleman grave robber with a vendetta against her father and sinister plans for the ruby.

Entangled in a web of family treachery, Ava finds solace with a lonely boy who fills her nights with stolen kisses and her head with ruby lore. But there's something strange about Ben Wolcott. He's a bit too cunning, a bit too preoccupied with keeping Ava out of his basement, and much too interested in Arabella's Curse.
Find Black Heart, Red Ruby:

Find Teresa:

You can find more of my cover design work at Seedlings Design Studio!   

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Review: Call On Me

Loving on the Edge #8
Roni Lauren
Adult Contemporary Romance
448 pages
Berkley Romance
Available July 7th
Source: ARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Oakley Easton wants two things: to be a good mom to her daughter and to ditch her less than ideal night job. Hooking up with bad boy drummer Pike Ryland? Not on the agenda. She needs a promotion. Not sex, tattoos and rock ’n’ roll.

Pike isn’t about to let Ms. Prim and Proper shut him down so easily, especially when he stumbles upon Oakley’s sexy night job. She’s only playing a role on those late night calls with strangers, but when he gets her on the line, all bets are off. He won’t stop until that sultry voice is calling his name for real.

But as they move from anonymous fantasies in the dark to the flesh-on-hot-flesh reality of the bedroom, the risk of falling in love becomes all too high. And the safe, quiet world that Oakley’s worked so hard to create is about to be exposed to the one person who could ruin it all.

Call On Me is a sexy-as-sin opposites attract romance, the drummer for a rock band sweeping the mom of an autistic daughter off her feet as readers are left panting and swooning in equal measure. We can't help but smile and shake our heads as both Pike and Oakley attempt to set one-time only rules for themselves, knowing their good intentions are going to be obliterated by a tidal wave of lust and love. Sometimes a romance between two people who think their relationship can be nothing more than a fling can be frustrating, the couple denying everything they're feeling as they stubbornly cling to how they think things are supposed to be. Luckily for us Oakley and Pike are much more honest with themselves, and while they put up a token struggle here and there, they opt to be open in their communication every step of the way.

Oakley is a mom by day and a phone sex operator by night, numbing herself to all things sexual as she works a second job to help support her daughter. She's as upfront as they come, telling Pike where she stands from the beginning and continuing to do so as their relationship shifts and changes, never allowing a miscommunication or misunderstanding to derail what quickly becomes a very important part of her life. Pike has the ego expected of a rockstar, but all his self-congratulatory statements are laced with humor, meant to elicit and eye roll and snappy comeback from Oakley rather than be taken seriously. Their banter is playful and so very well done, beautifully deepening their relationship on an emotional level as things progress on the physical one, causing the chapters to fly by until we find ourselves on the last page before we're ready to let these two go.

One quibble is with regard to a secondary storyline involving the father of Oakley's child, his reappearance toward the end feeling more like something added for the sake of a small bit of drama rather than a necessary event to further the romance, but that's a very minor complaint in an otherwise fantastic installment. Ms. Loren writes gorgeously genuine characters whose bedroom activities are hot enough that we feel the heat waft from the pages as we read, leaving us utterly satisfied while at the same time craving more.

Rating: 4/5

Find Roni:

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, June 24, 2015

Guest Post: Katherine Harbour + The Night And Nothing Series

I'm so pleased today to welcome author Katherine Harbour back to the blog to talk a little bit more about her Night and Nothing series. I'm a huge fan of all things fairytale or mythology related, so I was thrilled when Katherine was more than willing to tackle that topic and give us all a few goosebumps by discussing things with teeth. Take it away Katherine!

There’s something almost supernatural about teeth. Teeth remain after we die. Teeth are alive although they appear lifeless. Teeth in mammals contributed to the success of human evolution. (In Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone series, teeth are used to resurrect an entire race of beings.) Children’s teeth, lost naturally, were once given to Norse warriors as amulets and believed to bring good fortune in battle. In some cultures, children’s teeth were destroyed or hidden as a preventative against their being used for malevolent purposes.

For most children, losing a tooth is an unpleasant experience—a piece of them is falling off, there’s blood. But it’s a rite of passage, a first step toward adolescence. In J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, Peter is described as “a lovely boy, clad in skeleton leaves and the juices of trees, but the most entrancing thing about him was that he had all of his first teeth. When he saw she was a grown-up, he gnashed the little pearls at her.” On the other hand, the title character in Graham Joyce’s The Tooth Fairy is a disturbing presence who ushers the protagonist into adulthood.

And what does the Tooth Fairy do with all of those teeth she collects? The Tooth Fairy goes rogue in Gregory Maguire’s children’s book What-the-Dickens. In Zenoscope’s graphic novel series Grimm Fairy Tales, the tooth fairy is a sexy dentist by day and a bloodthirsty monster at night. The sinister aspect of this childhood icon, established in the twentieth century, has been the source of horror films such as Darkness Falls, in which the tooth fairy becomes a vengeful entity, and The Haunting of Helena, where she’s portrayed as a terrifying spirit with a bloody history. In Guillermo del Toro’s Hellboy movies, the tooth fairies are as vicious as swarming piranhas.

Teeth become terrifying when in the mouths of monsters, alluring (to some) between the lips of (attractive) vampires. In my dark fantasy novels Thorn Jack and Briar Queen, the supernatural Fatas use human teeth as currency, as weapons, but, to the protean Fatas, who can sometimes shift into monstrous shapes and who are really the formless children of nothing and night, we are the things with teeth.

Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by Katherine! And I just want to add that the movie Darkness Falls traumatized me. It said it was rated PG-13 and I was all "I'm an adult, I've got this, how bad could it be?" and then I nearly died of terror. Just saying ;-)

• • • • • • • • • • • 


Finn Sullivan has lost her older sister to suicide. Fleeing the memories left in San Francisco, she and her father move to an upstate New York town filled with socialities, hippies, movie and Theatre folk, where every corner holds possibilities and mysteries. As she settles in and begins college at the local university, HallowHeart, she discovers her sisters journal, filled with ominous musings on otherworldly beings.  She also meets the devastatingly handsome Jack Fata—and the rest of the enigmatic Fata family. 

As Finn’s fascination with Jack and his family deepens—and theirs for her does the same—she learns that they and the rest of the town denizens are far more than they seem, both for good and evil. Her sister’s journal suddenly seems much more menacing and realistic than she could ever have imagined.

Soon Finn learns that attention from the Fatas brings dangerous consequences. To free herself and save her friends and her love, Finn must confront the Fatas and unravel the secrets surrounding her sister’s death.

• • • • • • • • • • • 


Serafina Sullivan and her father left San Francisco to escape the painful memory of her older sister Lily Rose's suicide. But soon after she arrived in bohemian Fair Hollow, New York, Finn discovered a terrifying secret connected to Lily Rose. The placid surface of this picture-perfect town concealed an eerie supernatural world--and at its center, the wealthy, beautiful, and terrifying Fata family.

Though the striking and mysterious Jack Fata tried to push Finn away to protect her, their attraction was too powerful to resist. To save him, Finn--a girl named for the angels and a brave Irish prince--banished a cabal of malevolent enemies to shadows, freeing him from their diabolical grip.

Now, the rhythm of life in Fair Hollow is beginning to feel a little closer to ordinary. But Finn knows better than to be lulled by this comfortable sense of normalcy. It's just the calm before the storm. For soon, a chance encounter outside the magical Brambleberry Books will lead her down a rabbit hole, into a fairy world of secrets and legacies . . . straight towards the shocking truth about her sister's death.

Lush and gorgeously written, featuring star-crossed lovers and the collision of the magical and the mundane, Briar Queen will appeal to the fans of Cassandra Clare's bestselling Mortal Instruments series and Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely.

• • • • • • • • • • •


Born in upstate New York, Katherine Harbour is now a bookseller in Sarasota, Florida living with a tempestuous black cat named Pooka and too many books. She has been writing since she was 15 and has had several short stories published. THORN JACK is her first novel.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Billionaire's Fantasy: Meet Jaiven Rodriguez + A Giveaway!

Today I have the pleasure of introducing you guys to Jaiven Rodriguez, the oh-so gorgeous hero of Kate Hewitt's newest romance, The Billionaire's Fantasy. (Seriously, look at those abs! He looks like he's got six rock-hard dinner rolls hiding out under his skin, whereas my midsection is more on par with a large angel food cake. Awesome ;-). Anyway, baked-goods midsections aside, I'm super excited to share a couple Jaiven tidbits with you, and be sure and stop by Bewitched Bookworms for a few extra Jaiven-related details. Before I get to Jaiven and all his sexiness though, a little bit about The Forbidden Series:

The Forbidden Series is a trilogy of sexier reads with serialized release dates and a different author for each title. Each week a new part of these seductive reads will be released so be sure and follow along for some flirty fun!

For Logan Black, Jaiven Rodriguez and Zair al Ruyi, New York is spread out before them like the Garden of Eden…and no one knows the sweet taste of forbidden fruit better than America’s most ruthless billionaires! Jaded, cynical, with a darkness that threatens to consume them whole, they think they’ve seen it all. But temptation has something new in store for each of them…


What he looks for in a girl: 

Secretly he wants someone who values him. On the surface he looks for a woman who only wants a good time.

His one weakness: 

He secretly doesn’t think he’s good enough for anyone.

That's all you get ladies (well, that and a few more details in Danny's post), but he's clearly a man of mystery. To know more, you'll just have to read ;-)

• • • • • • • • • • •


When Louise Jensen spent one wicked night with the devastatingly handsome Jaiven Rodriguez, she thought it would be enough. But now Jaiven has had a taste of his greatest fantasy, he wants more! Louise is about to be taken on a sensual journey by this billionaire bad boy.

Get the Book:
Part 1 – Free! Amazon | B&N:
Pre-order the whole book here: Amazon | B&N

Get the different parts:
Purchase Part 2:  Amazon | B&N
Purchase Part 3: Amazon | B&N
Purchase Part 4: Amazon B&N

Release dates:

June 14: Part 1 is available for FREE!
June 16: Part 2 is available for sale
June 18: Part 3 is available for sale
June 21: Part 4 is available for sale
June 24: The complete book is available for sale

• • • • • • • • • • •


Kate Hewitt has worked a variety of different jobs, from drama teacher to editorial assistant to church youth worker, but writing romance is the best one yet, and she has written over 25 books for Harlequin. She also writes short stories and serials for women’s magazines, and all her stories celebrate the healing and redemptive power of love. Kate lives in a tiny village with her husband, five children, and an overly affectionate Golden Retriever.

• • • • • • • • • • •


The amazing team at Harlequin is offering up a $100 gift card (Amazon, B&N or iTunes) to one lucky winner! Please enter via the Rafflecopter form. Giveaway is open internationally.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Don't forget to check out all the stops for the entire Forbidden series!

The Billionaire’s Intern:

The Billionaire’s Fantasy:

The Billionaire’s Innocent:

Monday, June 22, 2015

Review: Twisted

Cynthia Eden
Romantic Suspense
384 pages
Available Now
Source: Finished copy from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
n the second seductive LOST novel from New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Eden, an obsessed Last Option Search Team agent goes looking for trouble--and finds her in the Big Easy.

Dean Bannon comes to New Orleans for one reason only: to track down a missing sixteen-year-old girl. That's before he meets the drop-dead gorgeous con artist who makes him want to lose his legendary control.

With her past, Emma Castille doesn't claim to be psychic. She just notices things other people don't. Like the fear in a runaway's eyes--or the pain in an ex-FBI agent's heart. Her chemistry with Dean is blistering, but Emma follows her passion... not someone else's orders.

Then a madman breaks into Emma's home and leaves a twisted message: You're next. Now Dean refuses to let her out of his sight until he pries every last secret from her full, sexy lips. And suddenly Emma's aching to give him everything he wants.

Twisted walks us through the bustling streets of New Orleans with another member of the LOST team, and introduces us to a new killer who sees blood and pain as moves in a sadistic game of chess. Ms. Eden changes the suspense element a bit from book one, giving us the killer’s identity fairly early on so that our attention shifts from the who to the how and when he’ll be caught before shifting things on us once again. What results is a night spent reading instead of sleeping, making our guesses as to how things are going to unfold and then flipping the pages as fast as possible to see if we’re right.

Given this series is romantic suspense, the relationship between LOST agent Dean and next-on-the-killer’s-list Emma is as prominent as the hunt for the man himself. Things start out just a touch rocky with Dean, his habit of continually reminding Emma of his Incredible Hulk-like tendency to be dangerous when he loses control something that has us wondering if we’ll ever be able to take him as seriously as he takes himself. His fear of letting his control slip might have given us appropriate pause should we have been privy to a few quick flashbacks to times when he’s been as dangerous physically or emotionally as he claims, but aside from one instance that was clearly self-defense, there’s nothing about Dean that warrants his early game of hot and cold with Emma.

Before too long however, Dean gives up on warning Emma off and finally starts taking what Emma is more than willing to give, allowing us to settle into their romance in a way we feared we might not be able to in the first third of the book. As always, Dean’s LOST team all play minor roles as well, giving us peeks into their personalities that are just long enough to build our anticipation for their inevitable stories, but never so long as to have us wishing we could return to our lead couple. Overall, Twisted starts out a little weak on the romantic front, but the killer’s sick games keep us fully invested until the romance catches up strength-wise, and we’re left nothing short of satisfied as we look forward to Sarah and Jax’s book.

Rating: 3.5/5

Find Cynthia:

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.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Giveaway + The Blog Most Likely To...

I'm super excited today to be a part of a fun campaign put together by the team at Penguin Teen to help celebrate The Boy Most Likely To, the upcoming release from author Huntley Fitzpatrick. I fell madly in love with Huntley on page one of her debut novel, My Life Next Door (you can read my full gushing review here), and I now attempt to wait patiently for anything and everything she writes. Something at which I fail miserably.

Penguin has asked those participating to play with the title of Huntley's newest book, changing it to The Blog Most Likely To and then choosing a superlative we think best fits us. Confession: I am terrible at things like this. When I have to be creative on the spot I completely freeze up and my mind goes utterly blank. The Blog Most Likely To Love Reading? The Blog Most Likely to Write Reviews? The Blog Most Likely To Have An Embarrassing Number of Book Boyfriends? (That last one is actually pretty good, I wish I'd thought of it prior to putting together this whole post ;-)

After thinking long and hard though, I finally came up with one that fits me pretty well. And so I give you the superlative for Supernatural Snark:

Yep. That sums me up pretty darn well. I CAN'T HELP IT, OKAY? A pretty cover will have me opening my wallet and grabbing my credit card faster than you can blink and I'm not ashamed of it. Below are just a handful of covers that made knowing anything about the story completely irrelevant because I needed them in my life regardless.


THAT TYPE! *dies* Trying to make an eight word title flow well and maintain legibility at a small size is no insignificant design challenge, and I just love how all the words fit together like a gorgeously eerie jigsaw puzzle. *pets type*


I love covers that take me a minute to make out what exactly I'm looking at, and when I do, bring a giddy grin to my face. Yes to creepy red smoke faces. (I actually think this is dye in water rather than smoke, but it doesn't even matter. It's gorgeous.) Yes to the way the word "bad" fills the spaces between the word "half". Yes to everything.


Hello there, nightmare-inducing cover. A bold, simplistic image will grab my attention faster than a busy design every single time, and this cover to me is striking for all it implies without having to work too hard. I'm not sure if I should be scared for whatever might be in the pram as it could be impaled at any second, or scared of it because it's the spawn of something that thought knives and scissors would work well as a mobile.


I wanted to end with a cover for an upcoming book since the above have all been out for a while, and when I saw the cover for The Forbidden Wish today I nearly died of want. IT'S SO PRETTY! I would pay a hefty price to wish this book into my hands immediately. Damn you February 2016, for being so very far away. *shakes fist*

Those are just a few of the books that made their way onto my list of must-haves based on their cover alone, and there will undoubtedly be many more to come. Sucker for a pretty face, party of one ;-)

I'd love to know what superlatives you guys would assign yourselves, so let me know in the comments! And don't forget to to mark your calendars for THE BOY MOST LIKELY TO, releasing August 18th from Dial.


Tim Mason was The Boy Most Likely To find the liquor cabinet blindfolded, need a liver transplant, and drive his car into a house

Alice Garrett was The Girl Most Likely To . . . well, not date her little brother’s baggage-burdened best friend, for starters.

For Tim, it wouldn’t be smart to fall for Alice. For Alice, nothing could be scarier than falling for Tim. But Tim has never been known for making the smart choice, and Alice is starting to wonder if the “smart” choice is always the right one. When these two crash into each other, they crash hard.

Then the unexpected consequences of Tim’s wild days come back to shock him. He finds himself in a situation that isn’t all it appears to be, that he never could have predicted . . . but maybe should have.

And Alice is caught in the middle.

Told in Tim’s and Alice’s distinctive, disarming, entirely compelling voices, this novel is for readers of The Spectacular Now, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, and Paper Towns.



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Thursday, June 18, 2015

Cathy Reviews: 100 Sideways Miles + Revenant

Today I'm welcoming my mother in law Cathy back to the blog to share a couple of her latest reviews. As always, a huge thank you to her for helping me tackle my review pile!

Andrew Smith
Contemporary Young Adult
277 pages
Simon & Schuster
Available Now
Source: ARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Finn Easton sees the world through miles instead of minutes. It’s how he makes sense of the world, and how he tries to convince himself that he’s a real boy and not just a character in his father’s bestselling cult-classic book. Finn has two things going for him: his best friend, the possibly-insane-but-definitely-excellent Cade Hernandez, and Julia Bishop, the first girl he’s ever loved.

Then Julia moves away, and Finn is heartbroken. Feeling restless and trapped in the book, Finn embarks on a road trip with Cade to visit their college of choice in Oklahoma. When an unexpected accident happens and the boys become unlikely heroes, they take an eye-opening detour away from everything they thought they had planned—and learn how to write their own destiny.

The first thing that caught my attention about 100 Sideways Miles was the title and the cover. It has a horse falling from the sky! Very early on, we find out that, indeed, a horse fell from the sky and landed on top of Finn. This tale is the coming of age story of Finn and his best friend Cade. Because of the horse incident, Finn is an epileptic and Cade is always there to make sure that his friend is fine. At the start of the book, it is very much a boy's story, a buddy book. Complete with bodily function humor, girl ogling, and swearing. Let me add a warning if you are letting your middle grader read this, there is a lot of swearing. I can honestly say I wasn't sure I was going to finish the book because I felt it was geared more toward boys. But like many readers, once I start a book I have to finish it and I am glad that I stuck with it. As the story proceeds, Mr. Smith adds depth and insight to these characters and we truly begin to care about them. Finn and Cade take to the road and we see what they are made of and we embrace them.

We do hear what 100 Sideways Miles means. Finn has a complicated formula for measuring time as a distance. I am not quite sure how or why this is but I think Finn felt that it carried more weight and added depth to all situations. It gave life more importance. We all know life is complicated and if seeing it as a math problem helps, so be it.

Rating: 3.5/5

Find Andrew:

Greywalker #9
Kat Richardson
Urban Fantasy
464 pages
Available Now
Source: Finished copy from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Turmoil, sickness, and destruction are sweeping through Europe—and its effects are being felt all the way across the world in Seattle. Harper Blaine and her lover, Quinton, suspect that Quinton’s father, James Purlis—and his terrifying Ghost Division—are involved.

Following a dark trail of grotesque crimes and black magic across the Old World, the pair slowly draws closer to their quarry. But finding and dismantling the Ghost Division won’t be enough to stop the horror that Purlis has unwittingly set in motion.

An ancient and forgotten cult has allied with Quinton’s mad father. And their goals are far more nightmarish than Harper and Quinton—or even Purlis—could ever imagine.

The pursuit leads to Portugal, where the desecrated tomb of a sleeping king and a temple built of bones recall Harper’s very first paranormal case and hold clues to the cult’s true intentions. Harper and Quinton will need all the help they can get to avert a necromantic cataclysm that could lay waste to Europe and drag the rest of the world to the brink of war.

Revenant is the conclusion to the Greywalker series. Harper Blaine, the heroine, can travel between the worlds of the living and the dead. I have to admit that I had to look up the word revenant. It means a person who returns from the dead. And this explains what Harper is, she is not a ghost but someone that has come back. In this last installment, Harper travels to Portugal in search of her soulmate Quinton to aid him in a search for his father, who is trying to destroy the world. His father has teamed up with some otherworldly warriors that are determined to take control of the human world.

This story is probably the creepiest one yet. It deals with macabre and ritualistic uses of human bones and bone collecting. These bones are collected from the dead and the living! The Portugal setting adds to the overall eeriness – it's a picturesque country with a long and violent history. It is clear that Ms. Richardson has done her research and found historical facts that draw us in and make us believe in all things haunted. Because of her graphic descriptions, it is easy to picture ancient churches and monasteries and cobblestone pathways.

I would recommend starting with the first novel and reading through the series, especially now that there would be no wait. I had to review my notes from the previous book to bring me up to speed with the characters. It was well worth the review and becoming reacquainted with Harper and her unusual helpers in this case. Ms. Richardson does a fine job keeping the story moving along but this is a very detailed and overly involved plotline.

Rating: 3.5/5

Find Kat:

These books were 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 (or in this case, Cathy's) honest opinion.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Wednesday Flourish: Song of Summer

Hey Everyone!

I hope you're all having a great summer thus far! It's unnaturally hot here so I'm basking in my air conditioning and generally refusing to step outside for any reason. My intense desire to stay in the great indoors is a good thing though as work has been busy lately, and I'm excited to share a few more recent cover designs with you in the coming weeks!

I thought today's cover would be a perfect fit for this time of year given it's titled Song of Summer, and I was lucky enough to once again team up with Meredith at Bloomsbury Spark as well as author Laura Lee Anderson to create a bright and vibrant type-driven design. I think you guys know by now that I'm mildly obsessed with illustrated covers and typography, so this was a dream project for me. We wanted it to be fun and musical with a touch of sweetness to hint at the romance between two young people, one hearing and one deaf, and I couldn't love those little fat birds more if I tried.

Since Carter can't hear, a lot of the communication between him and Robin takes place in the form of written notes, so we wanted the title to have a very hand-drawn feel, with the fluctuations in the letter shapes creating additional movement and reinforcing the musical element. I hope you guys love this cover as much as I do and are looking forward to meeting Carter and Robin on July 7th!

(releases July 7th from Bloomsbury Spark)

The thirteen qualities of Robin’s Perfect Man range from the mildly important “Handsome” to the all-important “Great taste in music.” After all, Westfield’s best high school folk musician can’t go out with some shmuck who only listens to top 40 crap. When hot Carter Paulson walks in the door of Robin’s diner, it looks like the list may have come to life. It’s not until the end of the meal that she realizes he’s profoundly deaf.

Carter isn’t looking for a girlfriend. Especially not a hearing one. Not that he has anything against hearing girls, they just don’t speak the same language. But when the cute waitress at Grape Country Dairy makes an effort to talk with him, he takes her out on his yellow Ducati motorcycle.

Told in first person alternating perspectives, language, music, and culture go along for the ride as Carter and Robin find their song.

You can find more of my cover design work at Seedlings Design Studio!   

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Last Man Blog Tour: Author Interview


Today I'm thrilled to welcome authors Bastien Vives, Michael Sanlaville and Balak to the blog to answer a few questions about their hugely entertaining Last Man series. This week is apparently my week to step outside my comfort zone as I don't read too many graphic novels, but I had a great time meeting protagonists Richard and Adrian, and as always, was fascinated by the artwork. I hope you all enjoy the interview, and don't forget to check the bottom of the post for the full list of participating blogs!

Richard Aldana, young Adrian’s mysterious partner in the fighting tournament, has a very blunt way of dealing with people. If he were teaching a class in the art of fighting instead of Mr. Jansen, what would his first three tips to students be?

Number 1: Don't do it. Have a beer. Smoke good cigarettes. Life is too short to spend it being punched in the face.

Number 2: Don't listen to adults. They may look like they know what they're doing, but it's just pretend. Hell, don't listen to me.

Number 3: God dammit, why are you still here?

If Adrian found his way into our world, which martial artist or professional fighter, past or present, would he be most fascinated by?

Bastien: Jean-Claude Van Damme.

Balak: Gina Carano. Or... allow me some French "Pied Noir" pride here, and let's say the great Marcel Cerdan.

Michael Sanlaville: The Great Khali!

What villainous character from any other piece of fiction or film would Richard most enjoy facing down in the tournament if he could?

Balak: Bloody Ivan Drago in Rocky IV!!! This bastard must go down twice for what he did to Apollo Creed. And that would be a fight we would like to see.

Bastien: Adolf Hitler.

Each volume of the Last Man  series leaves us on a cliffhanger of sorts. What one other series has the most brutal cliffhanger you’ve ever come across?

Bastien: When Joey proposed Rachel in Friends, season 8.

Balak: When Kelly Kapowsky cheated with her boss, leading to Zach Morris and her breaking up in season two of Saved By The Bell. I was twelve and the pain was real.

Michael Sanlaville: When CC Babcock and Niles kiss eagerly after years of wickedness in "The Nanny"... OUCH!

*Jenny dies laughing*

If Adrian knew his and Richard’s adventures were detailed in book form, what one reason would he give potential readers to encourage them to pick up his story?

Bastien: "Buy this book, the royalties are good."

Balak:"That's the best comic book I have ever read. Well, comic books don't exist in my world, so I don't know if that is a valuable piece of advice, but still."

• • • • • • • • • • • 

(Volume 2)

Richard Aldana, the mysterious stranger who entered the Games in the first volume of Last Man, continues to defeat all of his competitors, despite his outlandish refusal to use any magic, and to rely solely on martial arts. With young Adrian fighting at his side, he’s beginning to look like a likely contender for the Royal Cup.

But in a breathtaking twist, everything changes: this world is not what you thought it was, and Richard Aldana is certainly not who he claimed.

With the same fast-paced action-oriented storytelling and gorgeous art as The Stranger, the second volume of the Last Man series changes all the rules, and will leave readers eagerly awaiting book three!


• • • • • • • • • • 


Bastien Vives studied illustration and animation at the Ecole des Gobelins. After movie-making classes, he dived into comics, and his first title came out in 2007.

Michael Sanlaville graduated from the Emile Cohl school, and later the Gobelins, after which he followed twin careers in animation (at the Xilam studio) and in comics with Casterman Publishers.

Balak (aka Yves Bigerel) works as a storyboard artist, 2D animator and TV show director in France. He works with Marvel Comics on the new digital Infinite Comics brand, as a storyboard artist (Avengers VS X-men with Mark Waid, Guardians of the Galaxy with Brian M. Bendis, Wolverine: Japan's Most Wanted with Jason Aaron and Jason Latour).

• • • • • • • • • • •


Each stop on this tour will be featuring a fantastic Q+A with the authors, so be sure and follow along for more magic and martial arts!

Good OK Bad, 6/15http://goodokbad.com/
Supernatural Snark, 6/16 http://supernaturalsnark.blogspot.com/
The Book Wars, 6/17 https://thebookwars.wordpress.com/
Alice Marvels, 6/18 http://www.alicemarvels.com/
Comics & Cola, 6/19 http://www.comicsandcola.com/
Fleen, 6/22 http://fleen.com/
Graphic Policy, 6/23 http://graphicpolicy.com/
The Book Rat, 6/24 http://www.thebookrat.com/
Graphic Novel Resources, 6/25 http://graphicnovelresources.blogspot.com/
Women Write About Comics, 6/26  http://womenwriteaboutcomics.com/

Monday, June 15, 2015

Review: Devoted

Jennifer Mathieu
Contemporary Young Adult
336 pages
Roaring Book Press
Available Now
Source: ARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Rachel Walker is devoted to God. She prays every day, attends Calvary Christian Church with her family, helps care for her five younger siblings, dresses modestly, and prepares herself to be a wife and mother who serves the Lord with joy. But Rachel is curious about the world her family has turned away from, and increasingly finds that neither the church nor her homeschool education has the answers she craves. Rachel has always found solace in her beliefs, but now she can’t shake the feeling that her devotion might destroy her soul.

This review is going to be a touch different from my standard review, mostly because Devoted is a story that pushed me well outside my comfort zone and proved to be more than a little uncomfortable for me at times, but I enjoyed every minute of it. I'm someone who likes to stay well clear of stories where religion plays a prominent role, especially when what we see of that religion is more extreme in nature. Ms. Mathieu takes us inside a fundamentally Christian family with rather fanatical beliefs about God and the roles men, women and children are to play in service to Him, but she handles the subject matter with care through protagonist Rachel as she comes to see that the world she grew up in is no longer the one to which she wants to belong.

The first half of this story is hard to read, every communication between the members of Rachel's family parroted snippets of their pastor's teachings or quotes of scripture, leaving very little room for creative or independent thought. Rules are to be adhered to, men are to work, women are to cook, clean and reproduce, and every thought or action is to be a direct result of the church's teachings. A sense of claustrophobia was nearly instantaneous, the parameters of Rachel's world so rigid and unyielding that I found myself needing frequent breaks just to escape and take comfort in a life where I'm free to be whatever I choose to be.

Once Rachel begins to question her worldview, thanks in large part to the blog of a young woman who left the community years prior under somewhat scandalous circumstances, I found my breathing started to come easier, and I couldn't help but root for her to keep pushing and see where her desire to be more than an ever-dutiful helpmeet takes her. Rachel doesn't immediately cut all ties to her family or her faith once she leaves home though, instead she continues to question and figure out how to have a relationship with God of her own making rather than one created for her by her father and pastor. Ms. Mathieu highlights a number of negative aspects to the radical nature of Rachel's family's beliefs, but she doesn't tear them apart and then try to nudge us as readers into a more "correct" way of thinking, instead she beautifully paints Rachel's journey as just that–a very personal exploration of not just faith but also of finding purpose in life as well.

Devoted was an impressively large step outside my paranormal romance reading bubble of happiness, one that pissed me off to no end, made me think, and ultimately brought a huge smile to my face as Rachel reached out and grabbed hold of her right to make her own choices. I can't wait to read more from Ms. Mathieu.

Rating: 4/5

Find Jennifer:


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.