Sunday, November 15, 2015

Gratitude Giveaway Hop [International]

Welcome to my stop on the hop! I would like to thank the lovely hostesses, I am a Reader, Not a Writer & BookHounds for putting this hop together. 

The Gratitude Giveaway hop runs from November 15 - 30

Boy, does time flies. It's been an amazing 4 years since I started this blog. I am most thankful for the wonderful bloggers, readers, authors, and publishers that I've met over the years. This blog would be nothing without you guys, so, THANK YOU!
I am grateful for each and every one of you! 

One (1) winner
Choice of $20 (USD) Amazon GC or $20 (USD) worth of books from the Book Depository.

To enter, follow the blog your way (by either Facebook, Twitter, or BlogLovin', links can be found to the right)! Please leave a comment with how you're following and an email to contact if you win! 

INTERNATIONAL, open to anywhere The Book Depository ships.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Menagerie by Rachel Vincent

Title: Menagerie
Author: Rachel Vincent
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Menagerie #1

Hardcover, 432 pages
Publication: September 29, 2015 by Mira

Source: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for a honest review.

When Delilah Marlow visits a famous traveling carnival, Metzger's Menagerie, she is an ordinary woman in a not-quite-ordinary world. But under the macabre circus black-top, she discovers a fierce, sharp-clawed creature lurking just beneath her human veneer. Captured and put on exhibition, Delilah in her black swan burlesque costume is stripped of her worldly possessions, including her own name, as she's forced to "perform" in town after town.

But there is breathtaking beauty behind the seamy and grotesque reality of the carnival. Gallagher, her handler, is as kind as he is cryptic and strong. The other "attractions"—mermaids, minotaurs, gryphons and kelpies—are strange, yes, but they share a bond forged by the brutal realities of captivity. And as Delilah struggles for her freedom, and for her fellow menagerie, she'll discover a strength and a purpose she never knew existed. 

I’ve been a long time fan of Vincent ever since I read her Shifter and Soul Screamer series. So, when I heard that she was starting up a new series, I was beyond thrilled! More so, when I read the synopsis for Menagerie that promised a dark, macabre tale wrapped in the exquisite setting of a carnival full of beasties and mythology…you definitely can’t go wrong with any of that. I kind of had an idea of what the book was going to be about, with reading the summary and early reviews from fellow readers and bloggers; but somehow I was still shocked at how very dark, brutal and bleak the world building was and how much suffering and harsh conditions the characters had to endured.

Vincent’s Menagerie series is categorized as Urban Fantasy but there was a very subtle Dystopian undertone which is represented through the quotes scattered between chapters that emphasized life before cryptids were discovered or ousted and the rules and regulations enforced thereafter. While the book is mainly about Delilah Marlow, the chapters are narrated by multiple characters in third person (Delilah’s chapters are written in first person) which gave readers different point-of-views of the same situation which I thought was interesting. I’m sure those following my blog know that I’m not a fan of multiple POVs but Vincent made it work and besides Delilah I found myself particularly fond of Gallagher and Eryx’s chapters. As I mentioned before, I’m quite familiar with Vincent’s work but Menagerie was wholly different from the style of her other series but in a good way. For authors, who ventured out and did something unlike what they’ve done before is usually a hit or miss. However, I’m happy to report that Vincent hit a home run with this first in a brand new series! I’ve always thought she was a talented writer but with Menagerie I can tell she has grown leaps and bounds in the world building/characterization department. Within the first page I was captivated by Charity, and as I got further along into the story, I found myself wrapped up into the plot and each and every single one of the characters lives’, from captive cryptids to the humans working in Metzger's Menagerie (the good ones at least).

Speaking of characters, Vincent did a wonderful job at creating such a strong, strong heroine. I loved Delilah from the moment she stepped into Metzger’s. All Urban Fantasies has a kick-ass heroine…she either has powers, knows how to fight or a combination of the two…and while Delilah is a cryptid, she never really relied on her powers (for the first half of the book she didn’t even know what she was). What made Delilah such a strong and admirable heroine is her attitude and headstrongness. The Menagerie employees tried to break her, humiliate her, taunt her, starve her, manhandled her, threaten her and never once did Delilah waiver. Delilah is probably the strongest heroine I’ve ever read in fiction, she never gave an inch and always stuck to her ground even when her fellow captives saw no signs of hope and urged Delilah to submit to their authority. On top of such an amazing female lead, are a strong male lead and an eclectic memorable cast of secondary characters. There were many familiar mythical creatures featured that we’ve all heard about such as a werewolf, shifter, oracle, mermaid, minotaur, centaur, siren…you think of it and it’s probably in here somwhere. But the thing is, Vincent put her own spin on them all…so it’s like I was reading about them for the first time! Everything just felt so new, fresh and unique! This is a hard thing to do in itself on top of writing a novel. In this day and age, where everyone is writing similar things, it’s hard to accomplish those three things and standout. But again, Vincent doesn’t have this problem and instead she excels at it.

Many reviewers made some reservations when recommending Menagerie. Yes, it’s dark. Yes, most of the book was hard to stomach. Any bad thing, you think you can inflict or happen to/on a person is probably in this book somewhere. That all might not sound so endorsing but this is a book that everyone needs to read. It’s very thought-provoking, which is rare for me in UF/Paranormal novels (since I don’t recall any past books that made me sit back and really think). Regardless at how rough the book was in the beginning there was a happy ending in there, it was a bittersweet one but there nonetheless. I highly recommend this book; and I can easily say Menagerie is in my top 5 for favorite reads of the year. Menagerie exceeded all my expectations and I am already dying to read the sequel! 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Legacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman

Title: Legacy of Kings
Author: Eleanor Herman
Genre: Historical Fantasy, Young Adult
Series: Blood of Gods and Royals #1

Hardcover, 384 pages
Publication: August 18, 2015 by Harlequin Teen

Source: I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for a honest review. 


Imagine a time when the gods turn a blind eye to the agony of men, when the last of the hellions roam the plains and evil stirs beyond the edges of the map. A time when cities burn, and in their ashes, empires rise.

Alexander, Macedonia’s sixteen-year-old heir, is on the brink of discovering his fated role in conquering the known world but finds himself drawn to a newcomer…

Katerina, must navigate the dark secrets of court life while hiding her own mission: kill the Queen. But she doesn’t account for her first love…

Jacob, will go to unthinkable lengths to win Katerina, even if it means having to compete for her heart with Hephaestion, a murderer sheltered by the prince.

And far across the sea,Zofia, a Persian princess and Alexander’s unmet betrothed, wants to alter her destiny by seeking the famed and deadly Spirit Eaters.

Legacy of Kings was probably one of the most anticipated novels of 2015; I couldn’t stop hearing about it in the book blogosphere. After hearing about the wonderful buzz surrounding Legacy of Kings and reading the synopsis I knew I had to read it! I mean come on; it’s about Alexander the great, the most famous military genius of all time…who wouldn’t be intrigued? And lucky me, the lovely people at Harlequin Teen sent me a finished copy for review! Yes, the cover is as beautiful in person as it is shown online and the inside cover is purple as well!

I’m a sucker for historical fantasy, but it’s usually either a hit or miss. But in Herman’s case, it was definitely the former. I’m going to be honest, I only know the bare minimum when it comes to Alexander the Great and his time, but while reading Legacy of Kings it was plain to see how much time and research went into the world building and characterization. Herman did an incredible job accurately depicting the people, the attire, scenery and mannerism of 350 BC. In addition to being well researched and written, Herman also incorporated Greek mythology and magical elements to the story which rounded out the book nicely. The magical elements were very minimal. For example two of our main characters have an affinity with animals and the other, intuition. It was the right amount to this multifaceted world and didn’t take away from the main plots of the story.

Legacy of Kings has five main POVs that the readers’ follow; Prince Alexander, Alexander’s best friend Hephaestion, mysterious newcomer Katerina, Kat’s best friend Jacob and Persian Princess Zofia. There were also some POVs of Alexander’s mother and step-sister but very few compared to the aforementioned characters. Going into this book, I didn’t recall it having multiple POVs. I don’t normally do multiple POVs or third person narrations but again, Herman made everything work perfectly. It did take a bit of getting used to, but after the first 2-3 chapters, I was breezing through the book without a problem. I ended up really liking the multiple POVs. All of the characters and their personalities are so diverse; I appreciated being able to see inside their head on what they were thinking. Also another big plus, Legacy of Kings is the second book I’ve read where all the female characters were strong, intelligent and kick-butt. In my opinion, that’s a pretty rare thing in the YA genre. I love that the female characters rivaled the male characters, from handmaidens, princesses to an Evil Queen everyone was a headstrong fighter.

All in all, Legacy of Kings was an excellent start to the Blood of Gods and Royals series. I’m already looking forward to the next book in the series, and am desperately on pins and needles to see what will happen to the gang. Legacy of Kings is harmonious blend of history and fantasy, and I highly recommend it to all readers.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Girl at the Center of the World by Austin Aslan

Title: The Girl at the Center of the World
Author: Austin Aslan
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian 
Series: Islands at the End of the World #2

Hardcover, 352 pages
Publication: August 4, 2015 by Wendy Lamb Books

Source: I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for a honest review. 

As sixteen-year-old Leilani and her family learn to live without electronics, farming the land as her ancestors did, she finds strength in her relatives, her friendships, and her strange connection to the Emerald Orchid--the force whose presence caused global devastation--but suffers regret over what she must do to survive.

Aslan hits another home run with The Girl at the Center of the World, the final installment in his dystopian thriller of a sixteen-year-old Hawaiian girl trying to save her family and the entire world. The Girl at the Center of the World picks up approximately three months after the first book. Leilani and her family are trying their best to survive in this post-apocalyptic world without technology. Any semblance of their prior lives is long gone, as they have to learn to farm for most of their food, barter for other necessities, and just basically survive from day-to-day because there’s no more laws or order. Gangs/Tribes run rampant in the streets, controlling areas of Hawaii or people self electing themselves as judge, jury and executioner.

In the first book, readers got to glimpse life before and during the apocalypse but now we’re experiencing the aftermath and it’s just as terrifying as you’d think. Leilani and her father thought it would be safer in the rural area of Hilo, away from the big cities but it was far from it. Aslan painted a vivid image of despair and chaos with people being attacked, stores looted…just a grim idea of what the world would look like if technology was taken out of the equation. Society as a whole would start to crumble, with the police unable to protect the citizens and hospitals unable to heal. It’s scary how plausible it is, especially since societies nowadays are so dependent on technology for every single thing.

While the first book mainly focused on Leilani and her father Mike, which I didn’t mind at all. I was happy to see more characters entering the mix. Many of whom, made a brief appearance in the first book, like Lelani’s family and friends. Aslan sort of stepped away from the mysteries of the Emerald Orchid and spotlighted the relationships between Leilani, her family, and friends. I liked that even though the world is a terrible place, the characters had moments where they didn’t have to worry about saving the world or defending their turf…and just enjoyed each other company. For example when they celebrated Leilani’s birthday or when the girls wondered if the boy she liked, liked her back. It’s good to know they haven’t forgotten life’s simple pleasures. But that doesn’t mean everything was dandy. Leilani learned that she wasn’t just tied to the Emerald Orchid but had the ability to control some aspect of the living cloud. That knowledge was the key to helping mankind, and a knowledge that people would kill for to control.

If you enjoyed Island at the End of the World, you’re going to love the sequel. It had all the elements of the first book and so much more. There’s nonstop action, realistic character development and relationships, and Leilani is just as strong and kick-butt as ever. And if you haven’t read this series yet, you seriously need to get on it. This duology is one of the best young-adult dystopian series I’ve read in the long time!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Islands at the End of the World by Austin Aslan

Title: The Islands at the End of the World
Author: Austin Aslan
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian 
Series: Islands at the End of the World #1

Paperback, 384 pages
Publication: August 4, 2015 by Ember

Source: I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for a honest review. 


Right before my eyes, my beautiful islands are changing forever. And so am I ...

Sixteen-year-old Leilani loves surfing and her home in Hilo, on the Big Island of Hawaii. But she's an outsider - half white, half Hawaiian, and an epileptic. While Lei and her father are on a visit to Oahu, a global disaster strikes. Technology and power fail, Hawaii is cut off from the world, and the islands revert to traditional ways of survival. As Lei and her dad embark on a nightmarish journey across islands to reach home and family, she learns that her epilepsy and her deep connection to Hawaii could be keys to ending the crisis before it becomes worse than anyone can imagine.

A powerful story enriched by fascinating elements of Hawaiian ecology, culture, and warfare, this captivating and dramatic debut from Austin Aslan is the first of two novels. The author has a master’s degree in tropical conservation biology from the University of Hawaii at Hilo.
Dystopian novels have become a dime a dozen. The field is so saturated that it’s difficult to discern what’s or isn’t worth reading. However, The Islands at the End of the World is without a doubt in the former category, a book worth reading! There are so many great things that make this novel stick out from the rest of books in the same market. Unlike most dystopians, where it’s post-apocalyptic, we actually get to see things before and experience it alongside the characters as the world as we know it ends/changes. Secondly, The Island at the End of the World takes place in Hawaii! I think this is the first time I read a book where the location is set in Hawaii and the Hawaiians are the main characters/subject. And thirdly, this novel is all about family and I am such a sucker for anything family related.

Aslan did an incredible job with the world building. I loved all the picturesque details of Hawaii and can see it clearly in my mind as if I were there. I appreciated how he incorporated the use of the native language-lingo, and giving an in-depth look at the background and history of the residents, whether they’re natives, transplants or tourists trapped on the island. I really liked learning about the people, and was surprised to know that hapas, half Caucasian-half Hawaiians get just as much discrimination as any other nationality. Aslan also seamlessly blended Hawaiian myths/lore into the story and the characters, as readers get brief snippets on the different gods and well-known poems/sayings through the book.

The Islands at the End of the World focuses mostly on Leilani and her father Mike as they try to find their way home to Hilo from the island of Oahu. Leilani is pretty much your typical 16-year-old who wants what every girl wants…a normal life, except she’s an epileptic. But never once does she let it get the best of her. Leilani is a strong, independent heroine and is incredibly brave. She’s definitely someone who is beyond her years and always looks for the brighter side of things; I occasionally forget I’m reading about a teenager. Many dystopians are narrated by kick-butt heroine who are constantly fighting and trying to prove that they can do anything a man/boy can do. But Leilani never once came across like she had to prove herself to others…not even to herself. And I love that about her, she’s down-to-earth, realistic and relatable.

All in all, The Island at the End of the World was an outstanding debut novel by Aslan. I’m totally kicking myself for not picking this book up sooner! That revelation at the end about the emerald orchid was a big shocker; I didn’t expect the book to go down that route! If you’re looking for a fresh and unique dystopian, give The Island at the End of the World a try, this is a series you don't want to miss!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Sleepwalker Tonic by Jason Segel & Kirsten Miller

Title: The Sleepwalker Tonic
Author: Jason Segel & Kirsten Miller
Genre: Middle Grade, Paranormal
Series: Nightmares! #2

Hardcover, 368 pages
Publication: September 8, 2015 by Delacorte BFYR

Source: I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Charlie Laird has a dream life.

1) He has a weirdo stepmom who runs an herbarium.

2) He lives in a purple mansion with a portal to the Netherworld.

3) Since they escaped from the Netherworld, he and his best friends have been sleeping like babies.

But Charlie can’t shake the feeling that something strange is afoot. Charlotte’s herbarium used to be one of the busiest stores in Cypress Creek. Now her loyal following is heading to Orville Falls for their herbal potions.

Weirder, though, Orville Falls is suddenly filled with . . .zombies? At least, they sure look like the walking dead. Rumor has it that no one’s sleeping in Orville Falls. And Charlie knows what that means.

Things are getting freaky again.
Segel and Miller once again enchant young readers as they return to their wholly creative and entertaining world of Nightmares! in the latest sequel, The Sleepwalker Tonic. When we last left Charlie and the gang, we learned that nightmares exist in a place called the Netherworld and Charlie, his brother Jack and their stepmom Charlotte are the last guardians tasked with protecting the portal between the Netherworld and the Waking-World (our world). As we begin The Sleepwalker Tonic, the kids are out for summer vacation and everything seems to be going quite well. Everyone appears to be sleeping soundlessly; as there are no more terrifying nightmares plaguing the residents of Cypress Creek. Or so they thought. All the while in the nearby town of Orville Falls, the populace is all suffering from sleep deprivation due to nightmares. And just as the sleep deprivation worsen; a mysterious shop appears in Orville Falls promising a tonic to help them sleep peacefully…no more nightmares. The tonic not only takes away people’s nightmares but it also takes away their ability to dream. And without dreams, the people of Orville are turning into sleepwalking zombies! Once again, it’s up to Charlie and his friends to figure what’s going on…or there won’t be a Netherworld, Waking-World or Dream Realm.

In the first book, readers got an in-depth look of the Netherworld, and while we’ll explore more parts of the Netherworld, most of the action takes place in the Waking-World as Charlie and his friends tries to find a cure for the sleepwalkers. They’re chasing clues and mysterious shop keepers all over Cypress Creek and Orville Falls but not without a little extra help. The new President of Netherworld, Medusa, lends 3 of her scariest nightmares to cross over to help find a supposed 2nd portal.

The Sleepwalker Tonic is just as fun and engaging as the first book. Everything I loved about the Nightmares! was present plus more. I like how Segel and Miller incorporated nightmares in the plot this time around. I was wondering how the two would keep up with their nightmare theme with the second book…but who would have thought to use sleepwalking and zombies together? I found the concept amusing and fresh...I'm positive kids will get a kick out of it!

In my review for Nightmares! I was hoping that we’d get to see more of Jack and Charlotte, and I’m happy to say we do! We saw plenty of Jack since he basically stole the show for the entire book, playing a bigger role in The Sleepwalker Tonic than before. There’s also a new baddie in town, and boy, was I surprised at the end. I didn’t see it coming! While the main problem of the book was solved, there’s still a tiny plot thread left loose and the baddie(s) will be a bridge into the final book in the trilogy. I can’t wait to see what happens next when The Lost Lullaby releases next year! Overall, The Sleepwalker Tonic was an excellent sequel to Nightmares!. Fans new and old will no doubt be delighted. There's plenty of mayhem and hijinks abound, great characteers, and valuable lessons to be learned! Again, if you or your kids haven’t read this series yet, you need to A.S.A.P! You won't be disappointed!

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Nightmares! by Jason Segel & Kirsten Miller

Title: Nightmares!
Author(s): Jason Segel, Kirsten Miller
Genre: Middle Grade, Paranormal
Series: Nightmares! #1

Paperback, 400 pages
Publication: July 28, 2015 by Yearling

Source: I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for a honest review. 


Charlie Laird has several problems.

1. His dad married a woman he is sure moonlights as a witch.

2. He had to move into her purple mansion—the creepiest place in Cypress Creek.

3. He can’t remember the last time sleeping wasn’t a nightmarish prospect. Like even a nap.

What Charlie doesn’t know is that his problems are about to get a whole lot more real. Nightmares can ruin a good night’s sleep, but when they start slipping out of your dreams and into the waking world . . . well, that’s something only Charlie can face. And he’s going to need all the help he can get, or it might just be lights-out for Charlie Laird.

For good.

I remember hearing about Nightmares! when it first came out last fall...I mean, it was hard to ignore because it was being co-written by none other than Jason Segel! He’s a great, funny actor and I was definitely intrigued to hear that he was writing a paranormal children book. So when I was asked to review the Nightmares! series, I totally jumped at the chance. And I’m so glad I did! Segel is not only a talented actor/singer but he can also write! I’m sure having a seasoned author such as Miller; with many books under her belt helped. They made a great writing team; the proof is in the book itself. Segel and Miller penned a fun, hilarious and cute story with a surprisingly deep moral lesson, ‘face your fear and don’t let it consume your life...because there’s no obstacle you can’t overcome’.

I thought Nightmares! was really well written, the world building straightforward and very easy to understand. It wasn’t too simple or overly complex; I thought it was just the right amount of creativity. The whole concept of nightmares being real, in the netherworlds was something I’ve never seen done before. I loved it! And underneath all the vividly detailed descriptions, beautiful artwork and hilarious dialogue were great lessons for kids. As I mentioned before one of Nightmares! biggest moral lesson is to overcome your fears. Everyone is afraid of something, and it’s normal, there’s nothing to be ashamed of. And the best way to overcome your fears is by talking about it aloud with friends/family…because it won’t go away until you face directly head-on. Some other important lessons taught in the book are how to adapt to changes and overcome grief/loss.

I’ll admit I didn’t like Charlie right off the bat but he eventually grew on me. He was Mr. Grumpy Pants, who was lashing out at his family and friends. But at the same time it’s understandable. I get it. It’s always rough when you lose someone you love and think that any newcomer that enters your family is a threat. And as the book progresses readers saw how Charlie learnt to deal with those issues. Charlie is surrounded by loving and supportive friends and family, I just adored everyone. His friends are amazing. They always had his back and aren’t afraid to call him out when he’s acting irrational. Some of my favorite scenes in the book are of Charlie helping his friends’ overcome their nightmares….and vice versa. Charlie’s stepmom Charlotte and little brother Jack also made quite an impression, even if they only had little page time. I hope we’ll get to see more of them in the sequel.

All in all, Nightmares! looks to be the start of an amazing series. I think all parents should either read this book to their kids (8 years old and up) or get them a copy ASAP. I highly recommend everyone to check this series out…whether you’re young or old. I think we all can use a little reminder now and again on how not to run away when we encounter something we’re afraid of/or don’t understand and instead should face it straight on. Nightmares! hits the marks on all the feelings; it had me laughing, a little bit disturbed with the all the creepy nightmares (Ack, clowns and faceless bunnies!), and a couple of heartfelt moments with Charlotte and Jack. I can’t wait to start the next book, The Sleepwalker Tonic!