Saturday, July 14, 2018

‘The Hypnotic City’ (The Gold and Gaslight Chronicles #2) by Andrea Berthot

4 stars

Book Blurb:

“Philomena Blackwell survived a city plagued with monsters, the gilded cage of high society, and the rule of a heartless man... and she aims to leave it all behind.

It's 1905, and London has finally been freed from Henry Jekyll's terrible legacy - its people cured, its thirteen-year quarantine lifted. The world is waiting, and for a girl who dreams of being its most dazzling star, what could be more enticing than the bright lights of New York City?

She is drawn across the ocean like a moth to a flame, her heart set on proving that while she may be small on the outside, her soaring talent eclipses even Manhattan’s towering skyline. When she lands a big break, it seems as if the city is ready to fall under her spell - just as she seems to be falling for a handsome young stage manager. But is it her stage presence mesmerizing the audience, or something more sinister behind the scenes?

Philomena has always relied on her fierce will and fiery heart, but a new and more terrible danger lurks in the shadows of Broadway's bright lights, and even a mind as determined as hers may not be immune to its seductive, insidious pull...

Both fans of The Heartless City and new readers alike will enjoy this stand-alone / spin-off tale of Philomena’s adventures on stage - and in love - in NYC.”


Review:

A well-written follow-up of sorts to ‘The Heartless City,’ which follows one of the minor characters established in the first book. As these are stand-alone books set in the same universe, with some of the same characters, the Jekyll and Hyde mystery was wrapped up nicely in book 1.

‘The Hypnotic City’ follows young Philomena Blackwell in the hypnotic city of New York on the other side of the pond. While this is an enjoyable work of historical fiction, the supernatural elements found in the first book are not present here. Similarly, the atmosphere is different, due to both a change in setting and a change in narrating characters. The adorable English boys with impeccable manners and morals are seen on scant few pages of this second entry in Gold and Gaslight Chronicles.

Catch up on both ‘The Heartless City’ and ‘The Hypnotic City’ in preparation for the series conclusion, ‘The Hysterical City’ releasing on July 31st!

This series is LGBTQ+ friendly historical fiction, with themes of equality vs abuse of power, and a hint of steampunk.

I voluntarily read a Review Copy of this book.  All opinions stated are solely my own and no one else’s.

Friday, July 13, 2018

‘The Heartless City’ (The Gold and Gaslight Chronicles #1) by Andrea Berthot

5 stars!

Book Blurb:

“Henry Jekyll was a brilliant doctor, a passionate idealist who aimed to free mankind of selfishness and vice. He’s also the man who carelessly created a race of monsters.

Once shared secretly among the good doctor's inner circle, the Hyde drug was smuggled into mass-production - but in pill form, it corrupted its users at the genetic level, leaving them liable to transform without warning. A quarter of the population are now clandestine killers – ticking bombs that could detonate at any given moment.

It's 1903, and London has been quarantined for thirteen years.

Son of the city's most prominent physician and cure-seeker, seventeen-year-old Elliot Morrissey has had his own devastating brush with science, downing a potion meant to remove his human weaknesses and strengthen him against the Hydes - and finding instead he's become an empath, leveled by the emotions of a dying city.

He finds an unlikely ally in Iris Faye, a waitress at one of the city's rowdier music halls, whose emotions nearly blind him; her fearlessness is a beacon in a city rife with terror. Iris, however, is more than what she seems, and reveals a mission to bring down the establishment that has crippled the people of London.

Together, they aim to discover who's really pulling the strings in Jekyll's wake, and why citizens are waking up in the street infected, with no memory of ever having taken the Hyde drug...

Heart-eating monsters, it turns out, are not the greatest evil they must face.”


Review:

Author Andrea Berthot has skillfully crafted her own spin of the Jekyll and Hyde story we all thought we knew so well. This clean YA historical fiction is masterfully written and a blast to read.

Main characters Elliot and Iris share the narration, granting readers behind-the-scenes access to all their feelings and motives, and also the feelings of every character Elliot interacts with. Though he is often puzzled as to the reasons behind others’ feelings, Elliot consistently tries to do what is right.

While the slow burn romance between Elliot and Iris is lovely to follow, my favorite thing about this novel is the proper English young gentlemen; their impeccable manners and morals and sense of humor and witty banter.

Catch up on both ‘The Heartless City' and ‘The Hypnotic City’ in preparation for the series conclusion, ‘The Hysterical City’ releasing on July 31st!

This series is LGBTQ+ friendly historical fiction, with themes of equality vs abuse of power, and a hint of steampunk.

I voluntarily read a Review Copy of this book.  All opinions stated are solely my own and no one else’s.  

Thursday, June 28, 2018

‘Beneath the Citadel’ by Destiny Soria

5 stars - A YA high fantasy with alchemy, magic, and mystery.


Book Blurb:

“In the city of Eldra, people are ruled by ancient prophecies. For centuries, the high council has stayed in power by virtue of the prophecies of the elder seers. After the last infallible prophecy came to pass, growing unrest led to murders and an eventual rebellion that raged for more than a decade.

In the present day, Cassa, the orphaned daughter of rebels, is determined to fight back against the high council, which governs Eldra from behind the walls of the citadel. Her only allies are no-nonsense Alys, easygoing Evander, and perpetually underestimated Newt, and Cassa struggles to come to terms with the legacy of rebellion her dead parents have left her — and the fear that she may be inadequate to shoulder the burden. But by the time Cassa and her friends uncover the mystery of the final infallible prophecy, it may be too late to save the city — or themselves.”


Review:

Really enjoyed all the twists and turns in this YA fantasy novel. Narrated by 6 different characters, all keeping secrets, readers slowly learn of the history of the Citadel, its religious leadership, and the relationships between these characters. Though this allows the plot to unfold slowly, this is a very character-driven novel, and so understanding each of their histories and motivations is key to following the plot. As most of the narrators are teenagers (friends, siblings, former/future lovers) their interactions are often teasing, witty, and fun.

I appreciated author Destiny Soria’s approach to ‘magic’ - various abilities, prophecies, and control of certain elements. Not every character possesses one of these abilities, but the world of ‘Beneath the Citadel’ thrives upon the use of elder seer’s prophecies. These prophecies have kept the powerful council in their positions for centuries and led to rebellions for equality.

LGBTQ+ friendly. Gay, bi, and ace characters to be found here. This clean YA fantasy acknowledges character sexuality without making it a central focus point. I liked that the attributes were as mentioned just as casually as their height or hair color.

Can't recommend this book enough! I voluntarily read a Review Copy of this book.  All opinions stated are solely my own and no one else’s.

Grab Beneath the Citadel’ on October 9, 2018!

#CitadelBook #NetGalley

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

‘#NeverAgain: A New Generation Draws the Line’ by David Hogg and Lauren Hogg


5 stars - Excellent book, glad the Hogg siblings shared what they went through.

In ‘#NeverAgain,’ Hogg siblings David and Lauren provide insight into their lives; some background about their childhoods and the types of classes they took in Florida’s public-school system that led them to be the informed and knowledgeable people they are today.

Each of the authors also detail what it was like for them, and their friends, during the February 14, 2018 school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. They share their reactions and describe how they came together with fellow students in the aftermath to start a movement: A March For Our Lives.

The book closes with a long, carefully detailed list of all school shootings thus far, starting with Columbine High School in April of 1999. This well-researched chapter includes the names and ages of all victims, and something personal about each of them, to help us remember them.

Though the Hogg siblings outline a 10-point common sense strategy for gun ownership to coexist with human safety, this book is not political in nature. It is a social issues book, relevant to all Americans who value human lives.

All proceeds from the sale of this book go to charities such as @ChangeTheRef @AMarch4OurLives @strong_chicago

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

‘One True Love’ by Linda Kage

3.5 stars - Fun read and great effort for the author's first fantasy novel.


Book Blurb:

“Custom demanded that Prince Urban get a love mark tattooed to the side of his left eye as an infant, just like the rest of his people, but to him, the stupid things have only brought on the scorn of his father, the misery of his siblings, and caused his entire kingdom to go broke from fighting so many wars over the irritating ink stains.

When Urban’s sister must travel to Donnelly, the kingdom within the sand, for her arranged marriage to align two realms, he goes with her. But he no sooner steps foot inside their castle than his mark starts itching like a son of a bitch, telling him his one true love is near.

It just figures, though, that the woman meant for him is completely forbidden. Now he must decide if he should ignore the persistent mark, telling him she's the one, in order to avoid a possible war between kingdoms, or if he should discover whether she's worth risking everything for so they can be together. Either way, his life gets sucked into chaos with threats of beheadings, dark magic lurking, castle traitors scheming, and sword fights eminent.

Who knew one little tattoo could cause so much trouble?”


Review:

Arranged marriages, deadly court intrigue, and a dash of magic make this NA fantasy debut a wild and fun ride.

Grab a copy: One True Love

I voluntarily read a Review Copy of this book.  All opinions stated are solely my own and no one else’s. 

#OneTrueLove #NetGalley

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Cover Reveal: 'Keeper of the Bees' by Meg Kassel

“Beauty and the beast like you’ve never imagined!” — New York Times bestselling author Pintip Dunn




Summary:

KEEPER OF THE BEES is a tale of two teens who are both beautiful and beastly, and whose pasts are entangled in surprising and heartbreaking ways.

Dresden is cursed. His chest houses a hive of bees that he can’t stop from stinging people with psychosis-inducing venom. His face is a shifting montage of all the people who have died because of those stings. And he has been this way for centuries—since he was eighteen and magic flowed through his homeland, corrupting its people.

He follows harbingers of death, so at least his curse only affects those about to die anyway. But when he arrives in a Midwest town marked for death, he encounters Essie, a seventeen-year-old girl who suffers from debilitating delusions and hallucinations. His bees want to sting her on sight. But Essie doesn’t see a monster when she looks at Dresden.

Essie is fascinated and delighted by his changing features. Risking his own life, he holds back his bees and spares her. What starts out as a simple act of mercy ends up unraveling Dresden’s solitary life and Essie’s tormented one. Their impossible romance might even be powerful enough to unravel a centuries-old curse.


‘Keeper of the Bees’ by Meg Kassel
Genre: YA Paranormal
Release Date: September 4th 2018
Entangled Teen




About the Author:

Meg Kassel is an author of fantasy and speculative books for young adults. A graduate of Parson's School of Design, she’s been creating stories, whether with visuals or words, since childhood. Meg is a New Jersey native who lives in a log house in the Maine woods with her husband and daughter. As a fan of ’80s cartoons, Netflix series, and ancient mythology, she has always been fascinated and inspired by the fantastic, the creepy, and the futuristic. She is the 2016 RWA Golden Heart® winner in YA and a double 2018 RITA® finalist for her debut novel, Black Bird of the Gallows.



Saturday, June 9, 2018

‘Grace and Fury’ by Tracy Banghart

5 stars - A perfect blend of YA fantasy and court intrigue!

Book Blurb:

“Bold, brutal, and beautiful--a must-read fantasy full of fierce sisterhood, action, and political intrigue for fans of The Selection series, Caraval, and The Handmaid's Tale.

In a world where women have no rights, sisters Serina and Nomi Tessaro face two very different fates: one in the palace, the other in prison.

Serina has been groomed her whole life to become a Grace--someone to stand by the heir to the throne as a shining, subjugated example of the perfect woman. But when her headstrong and rebellious younger sister, Nomi, catches the heir's eye, it's Serina who takes the fall for the dangerous secret that Nomi has been hiding.

Now trapped in a life she never wanted, Nomi has only one way to save Serina: surrender to her role as a Grace until she can use her position to release her sister. This is easier said than done. A traitor walks the halls of the palace, and deception lurks in every corner. But Serina is running out of time, imprisoned on an island where she must fight to the death to survive and one wrong move could cost her everything.”


Review:

"A fierce, feminist fantasy for fans of Caraval and The Handmaid’s Tale” indeed. 'Grace and Fury' is a captivating page-turner; though it is a clean YA Fantasy novel, the characters do endure hardships and sexism is thoroughly woven into the culture our two narrators are born into.

Can't recommend this book enough! I voluntarily read a Review Copy of this book.  All opinions stated are solely my own and no one else’s.

#GraceAndFury #NetGalley

Grab a copy of 'Grace and Fury' from your favorite bookseller or your local library on July 31st, 2018!

Saturday, June 2, 2018

‘A Touch of Magic’ (Fae-Touched #1) by Isabelle Adler

4 stars

Solid paranormal romance series opener and no cliffhanger!

Put an amateur magician unknowingly in possession of a powerful magical amulet (Cary) together with a thief who specializes in magical artifacts (Ty) and throw in some mobsters and sorcerers/sorceresses, and you’ve got ‘A Touch of Magic.’ The various magical items and mob interactions were interesting to read about, and the slow burn romance between our two leading men was sweet.

LGBT friendly. #ATouchOfMagic #NetGalley

I voluntarily read a Review Copy of this book.  All opinions stated are solely my own and no one else’s.  

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

‘Year of Descendants’ (The Clockwork God Chronicles #3) by Aimee Hyndman

5 stars

Amazing third entry in steampunk fantasy The Clockwork God Chronicles. 'Year of Descendants' had me on the edge of my seat; this series seems to get better and better as it goes along. We see greater development of characters, relationships, and godly powers. While this does tie up some of the story line, some questions remain unanswered. Looking forward to the fourth book of The Clockwork God Chronicles, wish it was available to read now!

I voluntarily read a Review Copy of this book.  All opinions stated are solely my own and no one else’s.  

Thursday, May 24, 2018

‘Season of Wind’ (The Clockwork God Chronicles #2) by Aimee Hyndman

5 stars!

'Season of the Wind' is a solid second entry in steampunk fantasy The Clockwork God Chronicles! There's more of everything I loved from the first book (witty banter, character development, displays of Godly powers) and even more adventure. Diving into the next book now!

I voluntarily read a Review Copy of this book.  All opinions stated are solely my own and no one else’s.