Archive | January 2017

Review: Royal Bastards

Title: Royal Bastards

Author: Andrew Shvarts

Date of Publication: June 6th, 2017


Goodreads Summary:

Being a bastard blows. Tilla would know. Her father, Lord Kent of the Western Province, loved her as a child, but cast her aside as soon as he had trueborn children.

At sixteen, Tilla spends her days exploring long-forgotten tunnels beneath the castle with her stablehand half brother, Jax, and her nights drinking with the servants, passing out on Jax’s floor while her castle bedroom collects dust. Tilla secretly longs to sit by her father’s side, resplendent in a sparkling gown, enjoying feasts with the rest of the family. Instead, she sits with the other bastards, like Miles of House Hampstedt, an awkward scholar who’s been in love with Tilla since they were children.

Then, at a feast honoring the visiting princess Lyriana, the royal shocks everyone by choosing to sit at the Bastards’ Table. Before she knows it, Tilla is leading the sheltered princess on a late-night escapade. Along with Jax, Miles, and fellow bastard Zell, a Zitochi warrior from the north, they stumble upon a crime they were never meant to witness.

Rebellion is brewing in the west, and a brutal coup leaves Lyriana’s uncle, the Royal Archmagus, dead—with Lyriana next on the list. The group flees for their lives, relentlessly pursued by murderous mercenaries; their own parents have put a price on their heads to prevent the king and his powerful Royal Mages from discovering their treachery.

The bastards band together, realizing they alone have the power to prevent a civil war that will tear their kingdom apart—if they can warn the king in time. And if they can survive the journey . . .


My Review:

This book was a lot of fun and had loads of intense action scenes that kept me thoroughly entertained. I liked most of the characters but especially Zell.

The one thing I was not a big fan of was the modern day language in a historical setting. It was like reverse Romeo + Juliet (The Leonardo Dicaprio one) except here the dialogue was modern day. It may not bug a lot of people, but it really bothered me!

I did however, fly through this book really quick because I wanted to find out what was going to happen next. The characters at times did feel a little bit on the immature side, but I was able to look past that.

If you are looking for a fun fantasy book. Then you should check this one out.


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Trailer Reveal: Till Death by: Jennifer L. Armentrout

Till Death releases on 2/28/17



In New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout’s gripping new novel, a young woman comes home to reclaim her life—even as a murderer plots to end it. . .

It’s been ten years since Sasha Keaton left her West Virginia hometown . . . since she escaped the twisted serial killer known as the Groom. Returning to help run her family inn means being whole again, except for one missing piece. The piece that falls into place when Sasha’s threatened—and FBI agent Cole Landis vows to protect her the way he couldn’t a decade ago.

First one woman disappears; then another, and all the while, disturbing calling cards are left for the sole survivor of the Groom’s reign of terror. Cole’s never forgiven himself for not being there when Sasha was taken, but he intends to make up for it now . . . because under the quirky sexiness Cole first fell for is a steely strength that only makes him love Sasha more.

But someone is watching. Waiting. And Sasha’s first mistake could be her last.



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Winter Ghost Stories

I’d normally add both of these library finds to another post about that, but next month the focus will be on the February holiday of red and pink hearts. January is a good month for ghost stories, not as perfect as autumn, but it’s after the bright lights of winter holidays have died and the sky is often gray and the days are short and cold. Those are pretty good ghost story conditions…

I was lucky enough to have the library recommend a horror book that was a Japanese translation, our library has a good selection of those and it was where I found my first Murakami and Natsuo Kirino books. I really enjoy those, and since horror is up my alley, I was so excited to get “The Graveyard Apartment” by  Mariko Koike. The translation is old, it was done I think over twenty years after the novel broke out in Japan, but the feel of the book is still mostly modern.

The main character, Misao and her husband and daughter move into a bargain apartment. It’s beautiful, it’s convenient. It’s overlooking a graveyard and a crematorium…and it’s haunted.


The slow dance of the characters moving into the understanding that the otherworldly danger is real was done very well. Misao and her husband Teppei struggle between financial ruin and bailing on the increasingly menacing living space. They bought the apartment,  but everyone else in the building moves (most rented) and the couple and their young daughter are left alone there.

The everyday life details make this story. Misao is a work-from-home designer, and the nuances of motherhood and attempting that career seem vivid to me. The paranormal stuff slowly creeps in like cracks webbing across a window. If you didn’t have a fear of elevators before reading this, you will by the end. The end is, unfortunately, where I think a lot of people will have some issue. The story is good, but you want more. More details, more why’s and how’s and more on the tragic back story of the main couple. The ending to “The Graveyard Apartment” is sudden and swift, but somehow also very final. It’s not something I see often, but if you enjoy J-horror, it won’t stop you from liking this book. It’s not spectacular or unexpected, it’s a basic ghost tale, but it’s not bad at all.

My second ghost read came off my eldest daughter’s recommended books list. “Took” by  Mary Downing Hahn is a decent ghost tale read for any age, though you’ll find it the right amount of scary for a horror-loving elementary student, with the most frightening creature being an assembly of bones in overalls. It is imaginative and fast-moving and full of the dread you feel just before something goes really wrong.

Money problems force a formerly well-off family to search for cheaper lives away from the city, and under a charm by the local witch, they buy a dilapidated home that has housed rounds and rounds of families who had daughters kidnapped.



My issue here with this was similar to “The Graveyard Apartment”-the ending. The family of the main characters, Daniel and Erica Anderson, is emotionally abusive and neglectful. You get the impression that if everything goes right, things will get better, but after so long of the other kind of parenting that feels unlikely and forced. As long as that doesn’t bother or trigger you into not being able to enjoy the storyline, it’s fine. But, I wish it had been dealt with in another way, and it impacted me negatively.

That said, this still is a grand ghost story and a fast read. Both of these titles make good winter ghost stories to curl up with and read while having a warm cup of coffee or tea.



The Tattered Gloves: Excerpt + Giveaway


Head down.
Don’t look up.
Never make eye contact.

Those were the words I lived by growing up, the words that protected me in an unsafe home. But words are only letters and eventually even they couldn’t keep his hands off me.

Hoping to leave behind the shattered life of my past, I find myself in a boring, small town, with an aunt I’ve never met and at a school I loathe.

But soon I learn, not everything in this world is as black and white as I’ve determined. Sometimes those we are so quick to judge often need a second, third or even fourth time to make a first impression.

And often, there are friendships and even love waiting just around the corner, if we are brave enough to take the first step.

Am I brave? Or will I hide behind these tattered gloves of mine forever?

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“Your mother does know what size you wear, doesn’t she?” Addy asked the next morning as I walked out of the bathroom, showered and dressed for school.

Looking down at another version of the black long-sleeved shirt I’d worn the day before, I shook my head. “No,” I answered. “This is hers. Most of my clothes are. She always just gave me what she didn’t want anymore.”

Her eyes widened and then softened.

“Well, I meant what I said. I’m taking you into town this weekend. You’re too tiny to be wearing your mom’s hand-me-downs. She’s got to be at least two sizes bigger than you.”

Four sizes, but who is counting?

“Maybe, if I keep feeding you like this, you’ll actually grow some meat on those bones of yours,” she suggested, her keen eyes still fixated on my body.

It made me suddenly aware of the way my jeans felt so loose around my hips… how easily they fell from my body.

“You and me… we’re the same.”

The memory of his voice cut through my mind like a razor blade, and I instantly stiffened.

“Willow? You okay?” Addy noticed my change in mood almost instantly. She moved to my aid but stopped herself before her hand reached my shoulder. “Whatever is going through your mind right now, it will fade.”

“It won’t,” I said through clenched teeth. “It will never fade.”

“It will. Maybe not today or tomorrow, not even next year… but with time, it will fade. And it will heal.”

“You don’t know. You can’t—”

“Trust me,” was all she said before turning toward the door.



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About J.L. Berg

J.L. Berg is the USA Today bestselling author of the Ready Series, The Walls Duet, and the Lost & Found Duet. She is a California native living in the beautiful state of historic Virginia. Married to her high school sweetheart, they have two beautiful girls that drive them batty on a daily basis. When she’s not writing, you will find her with her nose stuck in a romance novel, in a yoga studio or devouring anything chocolate. J.L. Berg is represented by Jill Marsal of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency, LLC.

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Review: Geekerella

Title: Geekerella

Author: Ashley Poston

Date of Publication: April 4th, 2017


Goodreads Summary:

Geek girl Elle Wittimer lives and breathes Starfield, the classic sci-fi series she grew up watching with her late father. So when she sees a cosplay contest for a new Starfield movie, she has to enter. The prize? An invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball, and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. With savings from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck (and her dad’s old costume), Elle’s determined to win…unless her stepsisters get there first.

Teen actor Darien Freeman used to live for cons—before he was famous. Now they’re nothing but autographs and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but Starfield fandom has written him off as just another dumb heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, Darien feels more and more like a fake—until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise. But when she disappears at midnight, will he ever be able to find her again?

Part romance, part love letter to nerd culture, and all totally adorbs, Geekerella is a fairy tale for anyone who believes in the magic of fandom.

My Review:

I wanted to read this book because A. I like Cinderella and B. I like anything geekish. This book was super cute, and it follows the Cinderella story line pretty well. For example, instead of a magical pumpkin carriage that takes Elle to the ball, it is The Magic Pumpkin. It is an orange food van on wheels where Elle works with a girl named Sage who quickly becomes a really great friend.

Sage was actually my favorite character! She had a quick tongue and could best anyone with her quips. Elle lives with her stepmother and two stepsisters who constantly has her cleaning and clipping coupons for her. The stepmother in this story is a real beast, and I wanted to slap her myself.

The relationship with Elle and Darien (Darien is actually an actor in this story) gets started because Darien sends a text to Elle wanting to cancel an upcoming appearance. Elle still has her dad’s old phone number, and his text launches a continuation of nerdy texts between the two that develops into more. I really liked the romance between the two, but I wish Darien would have been honest sooner, and I wish Elle would have had some balls to stand up for herself in numerous situations.

Geekerella was catchy and fun and even though I wanted some of the conversations to go deeper, it was still a good book that I definitely recommend picking up to read.



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Review: Violet Grenade

Title: Violet Grenade

Author: Victoria Scott

Date of Publication: May 2nd, 2017


Goodreads Summary:

DOMINO: A runaway with blood on her hands.

CAIN: A silent boy about to explode.

MADAM KARINA: A woman who demands obedience.

WILSON: The one who will destroy them all.

When Madam Karina discovers Domino in an alleyway, she offers her a position inside her home for entertainers in secluded West Texas. Left with few alternatives and an agenda of her own, Domino accepts. It isn’t long before she is fighting her way up the ranks to gain the madam’s approval. But after suffering weeks of bullying and unearthing the madam’s secrets, Domino decides to leave. It’ll be harder than she thinks, though, because the madam doesn’t like to lose inventory. But then, Madam Karina doesn’t know about the person living inside Domino’s mind.

Madam Karina doesn’t know about Wilson.

My Review:

Wow! This book was everything I could have wanted! Domino is a girl who covers herself in armor through her wigs, heavy makeup, and piercings. She left home and has been homeless for about a year. When her best friend is arrested, she has no money to bail him out. An opportunity arises when she runs into a woman named Madam Karina, who offers her a job that seems like an easy way to make money.

Madam Karina’s place is not how Domino expected it to be. With the bullying girls and Madam Karina’s twisted ways, there is a person that has been living inside Domino’s head for quite sometime. His name is Wilson, and he will do anything to protect Domino.


Photo Credit

I don’t know how to describe this book besides awesome. I loved the main character, Domino, and you can’t help but feel for her and what has happened throughout her life. The person in her head, Wilson, I don’t know if I was supposed to like him, but I did!!!! He is something else!

Cain is another character that I absolutely loved! He has a past that haunts him, but he is also a protector. His relationship with Domino was sweet even in the insane situation that they found themselves in. There was a friendship bond between Domino and another character named Poppet, that was well done. Another character, named Angie, was quite the spitfire, and I loved her!

Violet Grenade had a lot of craziness going on, but an addicting kind of crazy. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I will just leave it at that! Go. Read. This. Book!



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Review: Eat Beautiful


Review: Hart Broken

Title: Hart Broken

Author: Annie Arcane

Date of Publication: December 2016


Goodreads Summary:

Mickey Hart doesn’t do one-night stands. Until she wakes up in a luxury penthouse. With nothing but a t-shirt and no idea whom it belongs to.

Enter Cale Windermere. Driven. Ambitious. Successful. And so gorgeous he could’ve walked straight out of a romance novel…

Except I can’t walk.

Not that it ever stops me from getting what I want.

And I want her.

Even if she’s keeping secrets.

That could tear me to f*cking shreds.

Warning: Strong language, mature content, drama, and angst included. Shirt sold separately.

My Review:

This book was really good. I thought it was going to be just your basic adult book with swoon. It did have that, but it was an emotional ride as well. Mickey wakes up in a guy named Cale’s apartment after she had a drunken night. Cale is wheelchair bound with a flirty personality.


Photo Credit

I loved Cale because he felt real. He had emotions where he would be fine and then not fine. There were moments when there were things that he wished he could do, but he did everything in his power to not have anyone help him. Being born paralyzed is different from being able to walk and then lose it during life, and his moods were spot on.

I liked Mickey, too. There were a few times where I wanted to slap her in the book because of the few un-called for moments. I get why she did that, but I still don’t like it!

The romance was great, and the dialogue was really good. The only thing I wished would have been different was for Mickey’s POV to have been in first person like Cale’s. Overall anyone that likes romance should check this one out.


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Review: The Paper Magician

Title: The Paper Magician

Author: Charlie N. Holmberg

Date of Publication: September 1st, 2014


Goodreads Summary:

Ceony Twill arrives at the cottage of Magician Emery Thane with a broken heart. Having graduated at the top of her class from the Tagis Praff School for the Magically Inclined, Ceony is assigned an apprenticeship in paper magic despite her dreams of bespelling metal. And once she’s bonded to paper, that will be her only magic… forever.

Yet the spells Ceony learns under the strange yet kind Thane turn out to be more marvelous than she could have ever imagined — animating paper creatures, bringing stories to life via ghostly images, even reading fortunes. But as she discovers these wonders, Ceony also learns of the extraordinary dangers of forbidden magic.

An Excisioner — a practitioner of dark, flesh magic — invades the cottage and rips Thane’s heart from his chest. To save her teacher’s life, Ceony must face the evil magician and embark on an unbelievable adventure that will take her into the chambers of Thane’s still-beating heart—and reveal the very soul of the man.


My Review:

I was immediately drawn to this cover. Everything about it screams awesome! The book wasn’t necessarily as cool as the cover, but it did have its’ moments.

The first 30% of the book was painfully boring. All that happened was a bunch of folding paper. They made some neat things, but come on reading about folding paper is not fun! Things started to pick up when Lira comes into the picture, and we learn some interesting things.

A lot of the book is spent in Emery’s memories which I liked for the most part but would have preferred more interactions between the characters. Also, how can someone smile with their eyes? No, seriously, is that even possible?

I would have liked the book to have been a little darker, but overall a quick, light read.


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Grab My Literary Dust Button!

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