Saturday, January 30, 2016

Series Review: Finishing School Series

A couple of years ago, I first read Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate Series and fell in love with it. There was something about the author's style, mixed with the old-world steampunk setting, and engaging characters that pulled me right in. I read the whole series in less than two weeks and then went through a short withdrawal, unable to find a new book that satisfied for a while.

With Carriger's Finishing School Series, I found that same joy as soon as I began the first book, Etiquiette and Espionage. This time, I purchased the Audible version and was delighted with the narrator. Having the story told with the British accent was an added bonus, a perfect accompaniment to the story.

The books follow the main character, Sephronia, and her friends as they begin finishing school. However, this isn't your ordinary finishing school. These girls are not only learning manners, fashion, and etiquette, but also poisons, weaponry, and diversion, all while attending the most popular balls and shopping for the latest fashion accessories. The girls bond while attending school in the flying dirigible and deal with all of the normal teenage dramas with a good deal of espionage added in.

I'm being honest when I say that I couldn't wait to drive to work in the morning and take the dog for a walk in the afternoon. I listened every chance I got and enjoyed every minute. I found myself wanting to talk with a British accent and wishing I could have my own small mechanical sausage dog. I couldn't have asked for more. Such fun to read, with much action while still keeping a light-hearted feel to the stories. I highly recommend the Finishing School Series for both young adults and adults if you are a fan of the steampunk genre. If you are looking for something more edgy but just as engaging, try the Parasol Protectorate books. I will definitely be reading everything I can get my hands on from Gail Carriger!
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Friday, January 29, 2016

#Sixtybooks: January Check-in

Hello #Sixtybooks readers!

We are almost at the end of our first month together and we are truly ecstatic about all of the people who have joined the #Sixtybooks in 2016 challenge. Over 270 people have already pledged to participate in this movement to make reading a regular part of our daily lives! Readers are posting on Twitter at #Sixtybooks, we are up to almost fifty members in our #Sixtybooks group on Goodreads, and thirty-six members in #Sixtybooks on Facebook. Thank you for spreading the word and please continue to share!

Melissa and I are hoping to post regularly to all sites about the books we are reading. Since it is still fairly early in the challenge, we thought a good starting place would be to share a couple of books from our TBR lists that we are really looking forward to reading this year. I know my TBR is entirely out of control but there are a few books that will move right to the top as soon as I get my hands on them. 

Here are our “can’t wait to read” titles:

Laura’s Books

Melissa’s Books

Leave a comment to let us know what books you are looking forward to this year.

Happy reading! 

Laura (@lagnella) and Melissa (@mmorriswrite)

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: January 20th

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

Release date: March 8, 2016

From Amazon:

The Shadowhunters of Los Angeles star in the first novel in Cassandra Clare’s newest series, The Dark Artifices, a sequel to the internationally bestselling Mortal Instruments series. Lady Midnight is a Shadowhunters novel.

It’s been five years since the events of City of Heavenly Fire that brought the Shadowhunters to the brink of oblivion. Emma Carstairs is no longer a child in mourning, but a young woman bent on discovering what killed her parents and avenging her losses.

Together with her parabatai Julian Blackthorn, Emma must learn to trust her head and her heart as she investigates a demonic plot that stretches across Los Angeles, from the Sunset Strip to the enchanted sea that pounds the beaches of Santa Monica. If only her heart didn’t lead her in treacherous directions…

Making things even more complicated, Julian’s brother Mark—who was captured by the faeries five years ago—has been returned as a bargaining chip. The faeries are desperate to find out who is murdering their kind—and they need the Shadowhunters’ help to do it. But time works differently in faerie, so Mark has barely aged and doesn’t recognize his family. Can he ever truly return to them? Will the faeries really allow it?

Glitz, glamours, and Shadowhunters abound in this heartrending opening to Cassandra Clare’s Dark Artifices series.

What book are you waiting on?

Monday, January 18, 2016

Cover Reveal: The Magician

I am excited to reveal the cover for THE MAGICIAN, the first novel in the Dark Arcana series by E.J. Stevens.  Cover art is by digital artist Ruxandra Tudorica of Methyss Design.

Cover Reveal: The Magician

The Magician Dark Arcana fantasy by E.J. Stevens

The Magician (Dark Arcana #1) by E.J. Stevens

When members of tarot's Major Arcana begin manifesting in the mortal world, magic is in the air and change is in the cards.

Release Date: September 20, 2016
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Add to Goodreads.

The Magician Cover Reveal Giveaway

To celebrate The Magician's cover reveal, we are giving away a signed cover art postcard and a $10 Amazon Gift Card!

Win $10 Amazon Gift Card

To enter, please use the Rafflecopter form below.  This giveaway is INTERNATIONAL.  Giveaway ends February 2, 2016 midnight EST.

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What do you think of the cover?

E.J. Stevens is the author of 14 works of speculative fiction, including the Hunters' Guild urban fantasy series, the Spirit Guide young adult paranormal series, and the award-winning Ivy Granger urban fantasy series.  She is known for filling pages with quirky characters, bloodsucking vampires, psychotic faeries, and snarky, kick-butt heroines.

Connect with E.J. Stevens by following her on Twitter, Facebook, Newsletter, Blog, Goodreads, and Amazon.
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Review: The 5th Wave

The 5th Wave is yet another one of those books that I kept looking at over and over again but for some reason kept putting on the back burner. When I found out it was going to be released as a movie in January, I decided to buy it for both myself and my son so we could read it and then go see the movie.

I have to say that I was hooked right away but also a little bit confused during the first pages.  It took me a few minutes to figure out who was narrating and get used to the author's style.  Once I figured out who was talking and what was going on,  I picked up the pace and was completely engrossed in the story.  I liked that most of the chapters were fairly short, sections were separated by a black page with white title, and that every few chapters the point of view would change from Cassie to Ben, and once or twice to Sammy, Cassie's little brother.

Cassie is perfect as the heroine of the story.  She's a young girl who has survived the first few waves of the alien invasion and who is forced into situations that cause her to grow up fast.  She is strong, but at the same time fragile, on the verge of total breakdown.  It almost seems like she is in a state of permanent shock over what she has seen and that fear and her natural instinct to survive are what help her to stay alive. The only thing that keeps her going is the possibility that her brother Sammy is still alive and she can find him. Once Evan enters the picture and she is no longer alone, she lets go a little bit and we see her start to lean on someone for support.  This doesn't last long however, and she toughens up once again.  I knew something was suspicious but I kept going back and forth about whether my theories were correct or not.  I was able to predict a couple of things accurately but I was also surprised once or twice at a twist that I was not expecting.  I already have a few different theories going about what path the next book will take.

My only issue was with Cassie and Ben's meeting toward the end of the story.  I had been wondering how it would play out but it seemed a bit rushed and awkward and I found myself a bit disappointed. I would have liked the author to give this section a bit more meaning.  I guess though, that the awkwardness of the meeting could have been intentional...

Otherwise, the fast pace and engaging storyline kept me reading.  I finished it in just a few days and I will definitely be picking up the next one soon.

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Friday, January 15, 2016

Friday Finds: January 15th

FRIDAY FINDS is hosted by A Daily Rhythm and showcases the books you ‘found’ and added to your To Be Read (TBR) list… whether you found them online, or in a bookstore, or in the library — wherever! (they aren’t necessarily books you purchased).

While I did receive a few new books from publishers this week, I also bought two books.  One, which technically is a pre-order and releasing in early April, is The Murder of Mary Russell, which is from a series that I adore.  I hadn't realized that it was coming out this soon so I'm very excited! The second, Jackaby, is a book that I came across on someone else's blog.  It looked like my kind of story and I really liked the cover and blurb so I grabbed it for my Kindle. 

What were your finds this week?
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Thursday, January 14, 2016

Book Spotlight: Debt

99c Pre-Order Sale
Over 400 Pages
Standalone Novel
New-Adult Romance / Sports Romance

By Rachel Dunning
Expected Release Date: March 2016

The Debt Collector
I pay my debts, and I expect others to.
I was raised in the slums of London, I knew nothing of privilege. My father was murdered when I was seventeen. Morty figured my father's passing meant I would automatically take on dad's debts. I refused. And I paid for that refusal.
So did my sister.
So now I fight. All I know how to do is fight. The best cash is in the states, so that's where I am now. A big fish called Vito came along offering me a "favor" when I arrived. Another debt.
I paid for that one too.
I knew Kyla Hensley would be trouble when I met her. So I chased her.
Besides, trouble is my middle name. 

Amazon US:
Amazon UK:
Amazon Canada:
Amazon Australia:

About Rachel
Rachel Dunning hit the scene in August 2013 and is the author of the highly praised Naive Mistakes Series, Truthful Lies Trilogy, Johnny Series and the paranormal romance series, Mind Games.
A prolific writer, she sticks to stories where where women have guts. She’s lived on two different continents, speaks three different languages, and met the love of her life on the internet. In other words, romance is in her blood.

Get Rachel’s Newsletter

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You can sign up here:

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Monday, January 11, 2016

Review: Etiquette and Espionage

My first Gail Carringer book was Soulless, which was the first book in the Parasol Protectorant series.  I was immediately hooked and read all five books in the series within less than a month.  I guess you could say I devoured them.  When Etiquette and Espionage came out, I was reluctant to pick it up, not because I thought it wouldn't be good, but because I loved the other series so much that I was afraid I would compare it and be disappointed.  I wanted it to have a fair chance.

So... I waited.

I'm not really sure what made me choose now to grab the first book in Carringer's Finishing School series.  Maybe it was the lure of the British dialogue, the Victorian steampunk setting, or knowing that I was most likely about to meet a strong sassy female heroine that I would adore.  The reality?  I got all three of these and more.  The characters and their adventures gave me the same joy as the first Harry Potter book.  Sophronia is truly a girl ahead of her time whose family doesn't appreciate her love for technology and books. They send her to finishing school, but no ordinary finishing school. Sophronia and her friends are learning how to gather intelligence, spy, and if need be, kill, and to do it all with perfect poise and impeccable manners.

I love Sophronia's spark. She is smart, spunky, and unafraid.  She, Soap, Vieve, and her other friends embark on several covert missions that include both suspense and a bit of humor.  One minor character I especially adored was Bumbersnoot, the mcanimal dog, who was an accidental acquirement at the beginning of the book but ended up being of the utmost importance to the main mission. The story is perfectly paced with just the right balance of action, character development, and setting detail.

I closed this book smiling and have already grabbed the second one on Audible.  I'm really looking forward to seeing what happens to these characters next. There is also an entire website dedicated to the series and the Academy.  Well worth checking out.  You can find it at  Enjoy!

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Sunday, January 10, 2016

#Sixtybooks Bling

Looking for some bling to show that you are a part of the #Sixtybooks movement?  We've got some options for you...

Add the badge below to your profile picture on Twitter or Facebook by going to

Have a blog and want to show that you are participating?  Grab our #Sixtybooks button code below!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Teaser Tuesday: January 5th

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of A Daily Rhythm.
Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My teaser for this week (I never stick to the two sentence rule... I just can't!):

"But if I'm it, the last of my kind, the last page of human history, like hell I'm going to let the story end this way.  I may be the last one, but I am the one still standing.  I am the one turning to face the faceless hunter in the woods on an abandoned highway.  I am the one not running, not staying, but facing.  Because if I am the last one, the I am humanity.  And if this is humanity's last war, then I am the battlefield."

The 5th Wave 
Rick Yancey  

Monday, January 4, 2016

#OneWord in 2016

All We Need is #OneWord in 2016

One word... I've been thinking about it for a while now and I've narrowed it down to three.  One choice is essentialism because I'm participating in a book study and webinar series on accomplishing more with less and creating positive life goals.  However, I could also choose growth because this year, I'm not only a reader and a book blogger but also one of the hosts of the #sixtybooks reading challenge for 2016!  I'm loving the whole process and really feeling like I am beginning to move to the next level as a blogger.  Finally, cherish would be my third option.  I would choose this because the older I get, the more I realize that life moves too fast and often quality time is lost in the shuffle of jobs and activities.

So, as I wrote the last sentence, it seemed perfectly clear which word is the most important to me. I'm going with CHERISH and I'm going to make a goal to cherish all things, especially time with my children outside of driving them to and from their activities.  And that... is my word for 2016.  

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Musing Monday: January 4th

Musing Mondays is hosted by A Daily Rhythm and is a weekly meme that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:
I’m currently reading…
Up next I think I’ll read…
I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
I can’t wait to get a copy of…
I wish I could read ___, but…
I blogged about ____ this past week…

THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: What do you do when you finish a book? Do you immediately start another one?

Well, I have to say it is hard to only choose one of these questions because I really could write about all of them.  I'm currently reading The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey, and although I procrastinated for months about starting it, I finally decided to push it to the top of my list since the movie is coming out toward the end of the month. I'm really glad I picked it up.  I was completely hooked as soon as I began the story.

Do I start a book right after I finish the previous one? Sometimes. It really depends on how much I loved the book I just finished and want to dwell in it's awesomeness.  I rarely wait more than a day or two though because withdrawal quickly begins to set in.  :)

Have a great week of reading!                                                                                                                  

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Review: Library of Souls

As much as I loved Library of Souls, finishing it is slightly bittersweet because it is the last book in the Miss Perigrine trilogy as far as I know.  Finding a book or series that really has that special something, one that you never tire of rereading or recommending, doesn't happen very often.  Miss Perigrine's Home for Peculiar Children, Hollow City, and Library of Souls, all by Ransom Riggs, all go into my top books of all time, especially the first book in the series, which included amazing photos to accompany the story.

Library of Souls continues where Hollow City left off, with our main characters Jacob, Emma, and their companions searching for Miss Peregrine and the other captive Ymbrynes and friends.  All the while, they are either avoiding or being chased by Hollowgasts or Wights.  The story is fast-paced and full of suspense as you wonder if some of the characters we have come to know will live or die. There are some fabulous photos in this story also but I didn't find them to be quite as intriguing as they were in the first two books. However, I loved that this book really focused on Jacob and his growth as a peculiar.  He spends a lot of time doubting himself but finds that when it really counts, he is able to achieve.  He also learns that it is ok not to be the hero all the time and no one feels less about him when he fails.  Jacob basically finds his place in the world and everything wraps up nicely.

Although there could be the possibility of other adventures for Jacob and his friends, it does seem as though it is over.  I will however, be returning to the world of the peculiars often to visit and these books by Ransom Riggs will always be fondly remembered.

Synopsis from Amazon:
The adventure that began with Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and continued in Hollow City comes to a thrilling conclusion with Library of Souls. As the story opens, sixteen-year-old Jacob discovers a powerful new ability, and soon he’s diving through history to rescue his peculiar companions from a heavily guarded fortress. Accompanying Jacob on his journey are Emma Bloom, a girl with fire at her fingertips, and Addison MacHenry, a dog with a nose for sniffing out lost children.
They’ll travel from modern-day London to the labyrinthine alleys of Devil’s Acre, the most wretched slum in all of Victorian England. It’s a place where the fate of peculiar children everywhere will be decided once and for all. Like its predecessors, Library of Souls blends thrilling fantasy with never-before-published vintage photography to create a one-of-a-kind reading experience.

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