Can’t Wait Wednesday – Spotlight on The Hazel Wood

 

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, which encourages fellow bloggers to spotlight upcoming releases that we’re excited about.  It is a meme that I have  loved participating in for over a year now, but as Jill is no longer actively posting, from now on I’ll just be linking to Can’t Wait Wednesday, hosted by Tressa, which is a spinoff of the original WoW meme.

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My selection for this week is THE HAZEL WOOD by Melissa Albert.  I just think everything about this book sounds so brilliant, like nothing I’ve ever read before and all of the advance praise I’ve seen for it (see below!) have me thinking it will be a real contender for my 2018 favorites reads list!

 

THE HAZEL WOOD by Melissa Albert

Publication Date:  January 30, 2018

 

From Goodreads:

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: Her mother is stolen away―by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began―and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.

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“Simultaneously wondrous and horrific, dreamlike and bloody, lyrical and creepy, exquisitely haunting and casually, brutally cruel. Not everybody lives, and certainly not ‘happily ever after’―but within all the grisly darkness, Alice’s fierce integrity and hard-won self-knowledge shine unquenched.”  ―Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“An empowering read that will be especially popular with fans of fairy-tale retellings.”  ―SLJ, starred review

The Hazel Wood is thoroughly, creepily captivating, with surprises I never saw coming! Such a refreshing and beautifully written inversion of the classic fairy tale-inspired story.”
―Kristin Cashore, award-winning and New York Times bestselling author of the Graceling Realm series and Jane, Unlimited

“This book will be your next literary obsession. Welcome to the Hazel Wood, where bad luck is a living thing, princesses are doomed, and every page contains a wondrously terrible adventure―it’s not safe inside these pages, but once you enter, you may never want to leave. The Hazel Wood is pure imagination candy.” ―Stephanie Garber, New York Times bestselling author of Caraval

“Dark, spellbinding, and magical. One of the most original books I’ve read in years―The Hazel Wood is destined to be a classic.” ―Kami Garcia, #1 New York Times bestselling coauthor of Beautiful Creatures and author of The Lovely Reckless

“Reader, I warn you: this book beckoned me in with delicate claws then sank its teeth into my heart. I fear a part of me will never escape The Hazel Wood.” ―Heidi Heilig, author of The Girl from Everywhere and The Ship Beyond Time

“Melissa Albert’s The Hazel Wood is an elegant dark fairy tale, full of the power of story. It’s creepy and gorgeous, and I loved every word.” ―Kat Howard, author of Roses and Rot

“Elegant, ethereal, and beautifully brutal, The Hazel Wood is a fairy tale worth falling for. This is a dream of a book I cannot recommend highly enough. It’s like falling into a nautilus shell: every time you think you’ve found the end, another chamber opens. Absolutely breathtaking.” ―Seanan McGuire, New York Times bestselling author of Every Heart a Doorway

“WOW. The Hazel Wood is absolutely mesmerizing, magical, and inventive. Hats off to Melissa Albert!” ―Karen McManus, New York Times bestselling author of One of Us Is Lying

“Dark, haunting, and absolutely mesmerizing: The Hazel Wood grabbed me with its mysterious, upside-down fairy tales, full of thorns and sharp twists. In no time at all, I became obsessed with this book, willing to follow it anywhere―even deep into the Hinterland.” ―Jodi Meadows, New York Times bestselling coauthor of My Lady Jane and author of Before She Ignites

The Hazel Wood kept me up all night. I had every light burning and the covers pulled tight around me as I fell completely into the dark and beautiful world within its pages. Terrifying, magical, and surprisingly funny, it’s one of the very best books I’ve read in years.” ―Jennifer Niven, New York Times bestselling author of All the Bright Places

“A winding, creepy, insidiously delicious novel. Utterly spectacular. I read it in one sitting!” ―Melinda Salisbury, author of The Sin-Eater’s Daughter

“Full of dark, twisty corners and eerie beauty, The Hazel Wood is like nothing else I’ve read before.” ―Evelyn Skye, New York Times bestselling author of The Crown’s Game

 

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I’d love to hear what upcoming book releases you’re waiting on this Wednesday? Leave me your link in the comments below and I’ll stop by and check out your CWW selection for this week. 🙂

Top Ten Tuesday: Good Enough to Eat – Top 10 Delicious Foods Mentioned in Books

top ten tuesday

 

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is Top Ten Yummy Foods Mentioned In Books (Does a character eat something you’d love? Or maybe the book takes place in a bakery/restaurant that makes yummy things? You could also talk about 10 of your favorite cookbooks if you don’t read foody books.)

 

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I’m all about food so this was a really fun topic for me (and nowhere near as hard as last week’s!).  I don’t really read “foody” books but I definitely take notice every time delicious foods are described in the books I do read.  Here are some of my favorites.

 

Top 10 Delicious Foods Mentioned in Books

 

1. “25 CENT BREAKFAST SPECIAL” from FRIED GREEN TOMATOES AT THE WHISTLE STOP CAFE

Credit: crackerbarrel.com

 

This breakfast of champions is mentioned on the very first page of Fannie Flagg’s famous book and my mouth waters every time I read it:  “Eggs, grits, biscuits, bacon, sausage, ham, red-eye gravy, and coffee for 25 cents.” I couldn’t find a picture featuring those exact same foods, but this Sunrise Sampler from Cracker Barrel is pretty close and amazingly delicious (although, as expected, it costs a bit more than a quarter, haha.)

 

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2. ELIZABETH’S FIRST AUTHENTIC ITALIAN MEAL in EAT, PRAY, LOVE

  

I think the “EAT” section of Eat, Pray, Love was the only part of this book that I enjoyed and my favorite part of it was the first meal Elizabeth has when she arrived in Italy.  Everything about it just sounds divine:  Spaghetti alla Carbonara, sauteed spinach with garlic, zucchini blossoms stuffed with cheese, warm bread dipped in olive oil, red wine, and tiramisu for dessert.  Pure heaven!

 

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3.  MINNIE JACKSON’S FRIED CHICKEN from THE HELP

    

One of my favorite scenes from The Help is when Minnie Jackson decides to help Mrs. Celia cook for her husband and she shares her secret recipe for what can only be described as the most delicious fried chicken in their whole town.  Just listening to her describe it makes my mouth water.  Fried chicken is the ultimate comfort food, isn’t it? (Now, as delectable as Minnie’s chicken sounds, I do, however, think I’ll pass on her chocolate pie. LOL!)

 

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4. OREOS from SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA

I think one of the reason I adore this book is because Simon is as Oreo-obsessed as I am.  I love all of the special, seasonal flavors that Nabisco comes up with, but the originals will always have my heart.

 

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5. CHOCOLATE MINI EGGS from THE UPSIDE OF UNREQUITED

Not only is Becky Albertalli an incredible writer, she also has great taste in snack foods.  Simon has his Oreos, and Molly and Reid have their chocolate mini eggs.  Have I mentioned that I also love chocolate mini eggs?  Especially the ones from Cadbury.  Mmmmmm….

 

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6. LEMON TARTS AND PUMPKIN PASTIES from HEARTLESS

  

One of my favorite parts of Marissa Meyer’s Heartless is that main character Cath dreams of being a baker and spends quite a bit of time cooking delicious pastries and cakes.  Two of her creations that made my mouth water were her lemon tarts and her pumpkin pasties.  I could totally relate to the Cheshire Cat when he was stealing desserts every time Cath had her back turned!

 

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7. BUTTERBEER from the HARRY POTTER series

Credit: Intoxicology

 

 

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8. MAIRE’S MAGICAL NUT-STUDDED COOKIES from MAGIC BITTER, MAGIC SWEET

Credit: Hershey’s

In Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet, Maire is a baker who can make the most delicious desserts.  Not only are they melt in your mouth delicious, but they are also infused with magic.  My taste buds would tingle after time there was a description in the book of some of her most popular desserts.  A stand out for me were her buttery nut-studded cookies.  I’m not exactly sure what a nut-studded cookie looks like but these cookies from Hershey’s are what I envision while reading this book’s food descriptions.

 

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9. ANYTHING FROM THE WONKA FACTORY in CHARLIE & THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY

 

 

What kid didn’t read this book and immediately want to try every bit of chocolatey candy goodness that Roald Dahl described?  Oh how I always wanted to get my hands on a Whipple-Scrumptious Fudgemallow Delight and a mug of chocolate from the Chocolate River.  (with Mr. Wonka’s permission, of course! I had no interest in behaving like the spoiled rotten children in the book.)

 

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10. GREEN EGGS & HAM from GREEN EGGS & HAM

 

I love ham and eggs. I don’t care what color they are. Bring ’em on!

 

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Question:  What are some of your favorite yummy foods mentioned in books?

Book Review: The Hundredth Queen

Book Review:  The Hundredth QueenThe Hundredth Queen (The Hundredth Queen, #1) by Emily R. King
three-half-stars
Series: The Hundredth Queen #1
Published by Skyscape on June 1st 2017
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 291
Source: Netgalley
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

MY REVIEW:

Okay, so I have to admit that what initially drew me to this book were the first lines of the synopsis:  “He wanted a warrior queen. He got a revolutionary.” That just screamed kick ass heroine to me so I couldn’t wait to dive into Emily King’s The Hundredth Queen, the first book in The Hundredth Queen series.  The Hundredth Queen follows eighteen-year-old Kalinda, a sickly orphan girl who is a ward of the Sisterhood. Because she has been prone to fevers her entire life, she has not received much of the training that her fellow wards have received.  This makes her a very unlikely candidate for the future that most of her fellow wards wish for – that of being ‘claimed’ by a royal family. Wards who are ‘claimed’ go on to become servants, or sometimes even courtesans or wives.

Kalinda is fully prepared to join the Sisterhood when the time comes and live a life of seclusion and prayer.  In fact, she’d much prefer this over the alternative.  When Rajah Tarek, who has the reputation of being a tyrant, comes to the Sisterhood looking to claim a new courtesan, as well as his 100th wife, Kalinda and her beloved friend Jaya conspire so as not to be chosen by Rajah.  Their plan unfortunately backfires and Rajah chooses Kalinda to be his 100th wife, taking her away from Jaya and the only life she has ever known.

What Kalinda soon learns is that being the 100th wife means she must take part in a Rank Tournament to defend her place among Rajah’s other wives and courtesans and that the Rank Tournament is basically a fight to the death.  Kalinda is horrified by the idea that all of these women are willing to kill each other just to improve their wifely ranking and is desperate to find a way out of her predicament, especially since she has no interest in being Rajah’s wife.  Instead, she has fallen head over heels for one of Rajah’s guards, Captain Deven Naik.  Kalinda wants nothing more than to find a way to escape her unwanted fate and be with the man she loves.  Her best chance for escape comes when she learns that those fevers she has suffered from all her life are actually so much more than just fevers.  Instead, they are a manifestation of a latent power she possesses but that the Sisterhood has kept hidden by dosing her with a “fever” tonic.  Why?  Because the power Kalinda possesses is forbidden and could mean death if the wrong people were to find out about it.

Can Kalinda harness this power while keeping it a secret from those who would harm her?  And can she use it to escape this death match that Rajah has set her up for?

Kalinda was definitely my favorite part of The Hundredth Queen. I always enjoy reading about an underdog that I can root for and with her fevers and lack of training, she is immediately presented in the role of the underdog.  As I was reading about the ‘Claiming’ process and seeing how few options women have in this society, I was completely turned off, so I found Kalinda very relatable as soon as it became clear that she felt the same way I did about the few choices women had. After seeing that all she wanted was to be able to choose her own path rather than have it dictated to her, it was that much more heart-wrenching to see her taken away and therefore separated from Jaya, who is obviously like a sister to her.

I continued to relate to Kalinda once she learned about the Rank Tournament and was horrified to find out what all of these women are willing to do to each other just to compete for Rajah’s attention.  The treatment of women in the book is truly appalling, and Kalinda’s recognition of that, along with those first lines of the synopsis made me perk up once more:  Is Kalinda going to be the revolutionary who changes everything?

As awful as the idea of the Rank Tournament was, I have to admit that the training scenes and especially the combat scenes in the novel are pretty amazing.  Those wives and courtesans are not people you want to end up on the wrong side of.  They are fierce and they’re willing to fight dirty to get what they want.  Lakia, Rajah’s number 1 wife is especially vicious and I feared for Kalinda on more than one occasion because Lakia really seems to have it in for her.

Aside from a relatable underdog main character and some epic action scenes, another aspect of the novel I enjoyed was the forbidden magic.  Those who possess the magic are called Bhuta and they are just fascinating.  Rajah has had many of them killed over the years, but those who have survived are in hiding and hoping to find a way to strike back at Rajah.  We don’t learn too much about them in this book, so I hope they will be explored in more depth in future books in the series.  What we do know is that their powers appear to be elemental, based on earth, wind, air, and fire.

Even though I enjoyed The Hundredth Queen overall, I did have some issues with it. My biggest issue with it lies in the relationship between Kalinda and Captain Deven Naik.  As soon as Kalinda and Deven see each other for the first time, they’re mutually obsessed, and for no apparent reason.  For me, it just felt awkward and forced since there was no build up to it at all.  It was 100% instalove, which never works well for me. What I also didn’t like though was the way Kalinda keeps putting Deven in compromising positions.  She knows full well that Rajah will kill Deven if he suspects Deven and Kalinda are romantically involved, but yet she keeps talking to him in private and otherwise calling attention to themselves when they should be keeping a safe distance from each other.  At one point she even kisses him where anyone could have walked in and caught them.  I just didn’t care very much for her reckless behavior.  Deven of course is equally to blame.  If he wants to stay alive, he needs to stay away from Rajah’s soon-to-be wife.  It’s not rocket science.

I honestly thought Kalinda had a lot more chemistry with a character named Brac.  He is one of the magical Bhuta, and while I don’t want to say too much about him because of spoilers, he actually ended up being one of my favorite characters and I preferred his interactions with Kalinda’s to her interactions with Deven.

One other issue I had was that I didn’t have a clear understanding of the Rank Tournament.  It didn’t make sense to me that these women were really willing to die or to murder someone else in order to reach a higher wifely rank or else to move from courtesan status to wife status.  I would have liked more explanation about why these women were so eager to challenge each other and if there was some other point to it aside from getting more attention from Rajah.  Speaking of Rajah, I also didn’t really understand why he was so obsessed with following some obscure legend step-by-by, especially since it meant his chosen women had to kill each other.  Following this legend is why he instituted the Rank Tournament in the first place and it was unclear to me why it was important enough to him to warrant killing people.  Those areas of the storytelling were a little vague and I would have liked them fleshed out more.

Even though I clearly had some issues with The Hundredth Queen, I still found it to be an entertaining read overall.  I’m definitely invested enough in Kalinda’s story to pick up the second book.

GOODREADS SYNOPSIS

As an orphan ward of the Sisterhood, eighteen-year-old Kalinda is destined for nothing more than a life of seclusion and prayer. Plagued by fevers, she’s an unlikely candidate for even a servant’s position, let alone a courtesan or wife. Her sole dream is to continue living in peace in the Sisterhood’s mountain temple.

But a visit from the tyrant Rajah Tarek disrupts Kalinda’s life. Within hours, she is ripped from the comfort of her home, set on a desert trek, and ordered to fight for her place among the rajah’s ninety-nine wives and numerous courtesans. Her only solace comes in the company of her guard, the stoic but kind Captain Deven Naik.

Faced with the danger of a tournament to the death—and her growing affection for Deven—Kalinda has only one hope for escape, and it lies in an arcane, forbidden power buried within her.

three-half-stars

About Emily R. King

Emily R. King is a reader of everything and a writer of fantasy. Born in Canada and raised in the USA, she has perfected the use of “eh” and “y’all” and uses both interchangeably. Shark advocate, consumer of gummy bears, and islander at heart, Emily’s greatest interests are her four children. She’s a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and an active participant in her local writers’ community. She lives in Northern Utah with her family and their cantankerous cat.

Weekly Recap #22: Week of 10/8-10/14

 

It’s time for another weekly recap post of all things happening on and off the blog. This week I’ll be linking to the Sunday Post, which is hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer and to Stacking the Shelves, which is hosted by Tynga’s Reviews.

Just one more day until my last big deadlines of the year! I’m happy to say that this past week actually ended up not being nearly as stressful as I thought it was going to be.  My coworkers were a lot more proactive than usual and even though we were really busy, everything went very smoothly.  Hopefully that trend will continue through tomorrow!

We also had our first soccer playoff game yesterday, which didn’t go as we had hoped so our season is now over.  It wasn’t the way we wanted to end, considering how well our team had played all season, but the better team definitely won yesterday.  I’m still really proud of my son, since this was his personal best season yet.  I’m waiting now to hear from him if he’s done until next spring or if he wants to play in the winter indoor soccer league.

Not too much else is going on honestly.  On the blog, I’ll be posting my 50th Netgalley review tomorrow so that’s a pretty exciting milestone for me.  I’ve also finally reached the 1,000 follower mark on twitter so I’ll be posting a new giveaway sometime soon to celebrate. 🙂  I’ve also been looking around for new challenges and readathons to participate in this fall and winter and so far, the one that has appealed to me the most is Caffeinated Book Reviewer’s HoHoHo Readathon so I’ve been looking for books for that and plan to sign up soon.  If anyone knows of any other good challenges or readathons, let me know.  I’m kind of new to them so I don’t necessarily know what’s out there to choose from.

Anyway, I think that’s it for me.  Have a great week, everyone!

 

WHAT I POSTED LAST WEEK

 

 

 

WHAT I’M READING THIS WEEK

 

      

UPCOMING REVIEWS

 

        
      

 

STACKING THE SHELVES

 

 

TOTALLY RANDOM

 

Source: Pinterest

Book Review: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Book Review:  Crooked Kingdom by Leigh BardugoCrooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
Also by this author: Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1)
five-stars
Series: Six of Crows #2
Published by Henry Holt and Company on September 20th 2016
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 546
Also in this series: Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1)
Source: Purchased
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads

MY REVIEW:

Wow, what a book!  I honestly don’t think I could have asked for a better series ender.  Crooked Kingdom is one of those books that not only lives up to all of the hype surrounding it, but it far exceeded my own super-high expectations for it.  As much as I loved Six of Crows, in many ways I enjoyed Crooked Kingdom even more.  I remember while reading the first book, it took me about 100 pages to really get invested in the characters and hooked on their story.  With Crooked Kingdom, I was hooked from page 1 and captivated by the story because the action picked up right where it left off in Six of Crows, where Wylan’s nasty father, Van Eck, had kidnapped Inej, and Kaz and the team were plotting how to get her back.  Honestly, I fully expected the entire second book to focus on rescuing Inej, so I was thrilled as I was reading to see that it was so much more than that.

Hopefully, I’m not being too vague in the next section but I really don’t want to do anything to spoil the series for anyone who hasn’t yet started reading it.

What really took Crooked Kingdom to the next level for me was how it’s a perfect balance between being plot driven and character driven.  Bardugo delivers an entertaining, action-packed storyline that is equal parts heist and revenge, but also combines it with an in-depth exploration of each of the members of Kaz’s crew.  I remember raving about these wonderfully complex characters when I reviewed Six of Crows, and Bardugo takes us even deeper into the minds of each of them this time around.  Even as they are actively engaged in carrying out Kaz’s plans, each member of the team is also taking their own personal journey, and in many cases, facing their own inner demons.  Going into this book, I thought I knew everything I needed to know about each of them, but I was so wrong.  The more Bardugo fleshes out each character and shows them fighting those personal demons, the more I fell in love with each of them, especially Jesper, Wylan, and Matthias, who all just experience so much growth in Crooked Kingdom.

I don’t want to give away any details of what they all go through in Crooked Kingdom, but I will say that this read took me on an emotional roller coaster ride.  I laughed, I cried (tears of both joy and sadness), I truly feared for Inej’s life on more than one occasion, and I got my heart ripped out in an unexpected plot twist late in the novel.  I honestly don’t know that I’ve ever been more attached to a group of characters so I give Bardugo major props for all of those little details that made me so invested in all of them.

Not only did Bardugo make me fall in love with these characters, she even turned me into a hardcore shipper even though I’m usually anti-romance. I didn’t even just ship one of the pairings; I shipped them all!  Nina and Matthias were my favorites just because they’re such a wonderful combination of sweet and sassy. Every time Nina would say or do something that would make Matthias blush, it would just make me chuckle because they were so cute. I also thought the relationship between Inej and Kaz was fantastic, mainly because of all of the mystery surrounding it. Inej never quite knows where she stands with Kaz – is he attached to her only because she’s useful to him, or does he feel something more for her?  These two badass characters are at their most vulnerable when they are together and I liked seeing past those tough exteriors to what lies beneath. And don’t even get me started on Jesper and Wylan?  They definitely win the most precious couple ever award.  Love them!

I know it sounds like there’s a lot going on with the heist/revenge storyline, the character explorations, and three potential romances, not to mention the story is told from each of their perspectives, but Bardugo does a brilliant job of weaving all of these elements together into an intricate yet easy-to-follow storyline that is incredibly compelling.

 

I can’t think of a single issue or dislike.  It was pretty close to a perfect read for me.  I’m just sad that it’s over because I’m not ready to say goodbye Kaz and his wonderful band of outcasts.

 

I can’t recommend Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom highly enough.  If you enjoy fabulously complex characters, anti-heroes, phenomenal world building, intricate plots, and romances that will make you smile, this is the series for you!

 

GOODREADS SYNOPSIS

After pulling off a seemingly impossible heist in the notorious Ice Court, criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker feels unstoppable. But life is about to take a dangerous turn—and with friends who are among the deadliest outcasts in Ketterdam city, Kaz is going to need more than luck to survive in this unforgiving underworld.

five-stars

About Leigh Bardugo

Leigh Bardugo is the #1 New York Times bestselling and USA Today bestselling author of the Six of Crows Duology and the Grisha Trilogy (Shadow and Bone, Siege and Storm, and Ruin and Rising), as well as the upcoming Wonder Woman: Warbringer (Aug 2017) and The Language of Thorns (Sept 2017).

She was born in Jerusalem, grew up in Los Angeles, and graduated from Yale University. These days, she lives and writes in Hollywood where she can occasionally be heard singing with her band.

She would be delighted if you followed her on Twitter, elated if you visited her web site, and fairly giddy if you liked her selfies on Instagram.

Can’t Wait Wednesday – Spotlight on GIRL MADE OF STARS by Ashley Herring Blake

 

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, which encourages fellow bloggers to spotlight upcoming releases that we’re excited about.  It is a meme that I have  loved participating in for over a year now, but as Jill is no longer actively posting, from now on I’ll just be linking to Can’t Wait Wednesday, hosted by Tressa, which is a spinoff of the original WoW meme.

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My selection for this week is GIRL MADE OF STARS by Ashley Herring Blake.  I absolutely loved Ashley’s last novel How to Make a Wish.  I thought she did such a beautiful job creating relatable characters and exploring different kinds of relationships (friends, family, romantic, etc.).  Her new book tackles some very difficult topics — consent, sexual assault, and victim blaming.  As soon as I read the synopsis, Girl Made of Stars became a must-read for me.  I have a feeling it’s going to be heart-wrenching at times, but it’s a timely story about subjects that we need to be having open dialogues about.

GIRL MADE OF STARS by Ashley Herring Blake

Publication Date:  May 15, 2018

 

From Goodreads:

“I need Owen to explain this. Because yes, I do know that Owen would never do that, but I also know Hannah would never lie about something like that.”

Mara and Owen are about as close as twins can get. So when Mara’s friend Hannah accuses Owen of rape, Mara doesn’t know what to think. Can the brother she loves really be guilty of such a violent crime? Torn between the family she loves and her own sense of right and wrong, Mara is feeling lost, and it doesn’t help that things have been strained with her ex-girlfriend, Charlie.

As Mara, Hannah, and Charlie navigate this new terrain, Mara must face a trauma from her own past and decide where Charlie fits in her future. With sensitivity and openness, this timely novel confronts the difficult questions surrounding consent, victim blaming, and sexual assault.

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I’d love to hear what upcoming book releases you’re waiting on this Wednesday? Leave me your link in the comments below and I’ll stop by and check out your CWW selection for this week. 🙂

Top Ten Tuesday – Top 10 Book Covers That Make Me Think of Fall

top ten tuesday

 

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is Ten Books With Fall/Autumn Covers/Themes (If the cover screams fall to you, or the books give off a feeling of being Fallish).  I feel like I kind of lamed out on this topic because I completely drew a blank about all things Fall as soon as I read it.  I’m sure once I see what everyone else has done with it, I’ll feel like a fool, haha.  Since my brain just wouldn’t work, I decided to just focus on book covers that remind me of fall because of their color schemes, since those red, orange, and gold earthy tones are what I most associate with fall. The books themselves have little or nothing to do with fall; it’s all about the colors!

Top 10 Book Covers That Make Me Think of Fall

 

1. A CLOCKWORK ORANGE by Anthony Burgess

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2. BEHOLD THE DREAMERS by Imbolo Mbue

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3.  HOMEGOING by Yaa Gyasi

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4. ILLUMINAE by Amy Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

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5. THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE by Stieg Larrson

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6. LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

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7. A WALK TO REMEMBER by Nicholas Sparks

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8. WALDEN by Henry David Thoreau

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9. THE INVENTION OF WINGS by Sue Monk Kidd

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10. A FEAST FOR CROWS by George R.R. Martin

Hey, Winter is coming! Fall comes before winter so I’m kind of on topic with this one, right? (Ssshhhh, just let me have my moment, lol)

 

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Question:  Hmmm, did you have any better luck with this topic than I did?

ARC Review: Murder Over Mochas

ARC Review:  Murder Over MochasMurder Over Mochas by Caroline Fardig
three-half-stars
Series: Java Jive #5
Published by Random House Publishing Group - Alibi on January 1st 1970
Genres: Cozy Mystery, Mystery
Source: Netgalley
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FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

MY REVIEW:

I decided I wanted a to take a break from my usual fantasy, science fiction, and psychological thriller reads so I settled on the cozy mystery, Murder Over Mochas by Caroline Fardig.  I have to admit that the title and the cute cover were what initially drew me in, but I was also intrigued by the storyline.  I settled into my favorite reading chair and proceeded to devour the book in just a couple of sittings.  The story, which is book #5 in the Java Jive mystery series, follows Juliet Langley, a coffeehouse manager who is also a private investigator.  Juliet is working at the coffeehouse one evening when her ex-fiance Scott O’Malley shows up unannounced, begging to see her.  Outraged because she hasn’t seen Scott since he dumped her and took basically everything she owned, including all of her money, Juliet immediately punches Scott in the face and has absolutely zero interest in hearing what he has to say.

Finally, she relents, and over a cup of coffee, Scott tells Juliet that he is in deep trouble with some dangerous people who have kidnapped his wife, Mandi (who is of course the woman Scott left Juliet for).  Mid-conversation, Scott suddenly keels over and drops dead right in front of Juliet.  When preliminary test results indicate Scott was probably poisoned, Juliet realizes that her tumultuous past with Scott, along with the fact that she practically attacked him in front of a roomful of people, is going to automatically put her at the top of the list of suspects.  So she sets out, with the help of another ex-boyfreind, police detective Ryder Hamilton, to figure out what has really been happening with Scott and if someone actually poisoned him.

Will Juliet be able to solve the mystery and clear her name or will Scott continue to screw her over from beyond the grave, sending her to prison for a crime she didn’t commit?  And can her budding romance with coffeehouse owner, Pete, survive the chaos and drama that Scott’s death brings into their lives?

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Okay, I don’t want to say too much else about the plot because I don’t want to give away any details that would spoil the mystery, so I’ll just say that this was a fun and quick read for me.  It was the perfect read to curl up with in my favorite reading chair and I will definitely keep this series in mind the next time I’m looking for a light and entertaining mystery.

On to some highlights…

 

I really enjoyed the main character, Juliet.  She is feisty, independent, and very resourceful.  I was hooked on Juliet from the opening scene of the book when her ex shows up and she immediately punches him in the face.  Juliet gets herself into several humorous scrapes along the way, but thinks fast enough on her feet, thankfully, to get herself out of trouble most of the time.  In that sense, Juliet actually reminded me a lot of Stephanie Plum from the series of the same name, who is one of my favorite mystery heroines.  They’re both kickass and yet hilarious at the same time.

I loved the author’s writing style as well. It’s very conversational, with lots of witty banter between the characters, and I just found myself effortlessly pulled through all of the twists and turns of the story.

The romance was handled well too.  Those who follow my reviews know that I don’t like it when a romance takes over and distracts from the rest of the storyline.  In the case of Murder Over Mochas, the romance is clearly there but it isn’t heavy-handed at all.  Instead, it is skillfully woven in so as to complement the mystery storyline rather than distract from it.

 

The only real issue I had with Murder Over Mochas was that although the book technically works as a standalone even though it’s part of a series, I just would have liked more information about each of the characters.  I felt like there were details about their backstories that I was missing, and that with those details, it would have been an even more enjoyable read than it was.  I especially would have liked to see more of the early interactions between Juliet and Pete.  That would have made it a solid 4 star read for me.

 

If you’re into cozy mysteries or just want a quick, light mystery with a touch of romance and humor, I’d definitely say Murder Over Mochas is worth a read.  If you’re like me and think you’d want more backstory, maybe consider starting at the beginning of the series and working your way to this one.  I think any of them would make excellent weekend or vacation reads.

 

Thanks so much to Caroline Fardig, Random House Publishing Group – Alibi, and to Netgalley for allowing me to preview this book.  It in no way shapes my opinion.

 

SYNOPSIS:

A blast from the past gets Nashville PI and coffeehouse manager Juliet Langley in hot water in this explosive mystery from the USA Today bestselling author of Death Before Decaf.

As a newly minted private eye, Juliet Langley has sworn to leave homicide to the authorities, limiting the scope of her investigations to cheating spouses and dirty business partners . . . like her ex-fiancé, Scott O’Malley. When Scott shows up unannounced at her coffeehouse, Java Jive, Juliet’s first instinct is to punch him in the nose. Her second is to turn down his desperate plea for help with a case that’s way too dangerous for her liking. But when Scott drops dead before her eyes, Juliet isn’t going to wait around for someone else to clear her name.

It’s only a matter of time before her tumultuous past with her ex-fiancé comes out, so Juliet teams up with her ex-boyfriend, police detective Ryder Hamilton, to figure out who poisoned Scott. They soon confirm that Scott was involved in an illegal scheme that’s definitely grounds for concern.

Just as romance is finally beginning to percolate for Juliet and her best friend, Pete Bennett, she has no choice but to head back to her hometown to seek out the truth. And she’ll need help from the locals to find the real killer—otherwise her happily ever after could easily end up including an actual ball and chain.

 

 

three-half-stars

About Caroline Fardig

CAROLINE FARDIG is the USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR of the Java Jive Mysteries series and the Lizzie Hart Mysteries series. Fardig’s BAD MEDICINE was named one of the “Best Books of 2015” by Suspense Magazine. She worked as a schoolteacher, church organist, insurance agent, funeral parlor associate, and stay-at-home mom before she realized that she wanted to be a writer when she grew up. Born and raised in a small town in Indiana, Fardig still lives in that same town with an understanding husband, two sweet kids, two energetic dogs, and one malevolent cat.

Weekly Recap #21: Week of 10/1-10/7

 

It’s time for another weekly recap post of all things happening on and off the blog. This week I’ll be linking to the Sunday Post, which is hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer and to Stacking the Shelves, which is hosted by Tynga’s Reviews.

This past week was one of those weeks where I felt like I was just constantly distracted and trying to go in about 10 different directions at the same time.  Upcoming work deadlines have had me bringing work home several nights this week and then trying to fit that in around my son’s soccer games and homework. Thankfully my work deadlines are fast approaching (10/16) and then that stress will be behind me.  Soccer has been going well. We just finished the regular season with a 6-1-1 record and will have our first playoff game in a week.  My son hasn’t scored anymore goals, but he is still having an outstanding season. I’m really proud of him, especially since he wasn’t even sure he wanted to keep playing this season.

Another big distraction has been starting to plan my November trip to NYC.  Since I’ve already done most of the obvious touristy things on previous trips, I’ve been doing a lot of research trying to come up with some new things to do and places to go.  We’re thinking of touring Harlem this time if we can find a tour that we like the sound of.

Netflix was calling my name a lot this week as well. I had a few of those evenings where I just needed something mindless to do so I vegged out and binge watched the rest of Shameless, season 3 of Fuller House, and then watched the Jane Fonda/Robert Redford movie Our Souls at Night.  Man, those two still have the best onscreen chemistry!

Needless to say, I got a little behind on my blog commenting.  I meant to get all caught up today but then spent most of the day reading and napping instead, haha.  I hope to be caught up before the end of the day tomorrow though.  I also have a few reviews that I need to get written because while I was hibernating and reading, I finished Crooked Kingdom as well as the cozy mystery Murder Over Mochas.  I also started Emery Lord’s The Names They Gave Us and Hillary’s new book.  I think Hillary’s book is going to take me a while to get through, just because of all of the emotions that it stirs up, but so far, I’m finding it to be an interesting read.  Very raw and honest.

Anyway, I think that’s it for me.  Have a great week, everyone!

 

WHAT I POSTED LAST WEEK

 

 

 

WHAT I’M READING THIS WEEK

 

       

UPCOMING REVIEWS

 

        

 

STACKING THE SHELVES

 

 

TOTALLY RANDOM

 

Can’t Wait Wednesday: Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, which encourages fellow bloggers to spotlight upcoming releases that we’re excited about.  It is a meme that I have  loved participating in for over a year now, but as Jill is no longer actively posting, from now on I’ll just be linking to Can’t Wait Wednesday, hosted by Tressa, which is a spinoff of the original WoW meme.

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My selection for this week is BENEATH THE SUGAR SKY by Seanan McGuire. I’ve not actually started the Wayward Children series yet, so I’m glad the synopsis indicates that this will work as a standalone.  I love books that are set in boarding schools anyway and even better that the setting for this story is a magical boarding school!  The synopsis also grabbed my attention with the idea that main character Rini is on a quest to that involves restoring her dead mother to life, somehow without the use of magic.  As if that wasn’t complicated enough she’s also going to save the world.  Failure is not an option for Rini because if she can’t find a way to restore her mother, Rini herself will never have been born.  Sounds like a pretty wild ride to me!  Oh and apparently this is also a tale of courage, friendship and baking.  Interesting combination and more than enough to pique my curiosity about this book as well as the whole Wayward Children series.

 

 

BENEATH THE SUGAR SKY by Seanan McGuire

Publication Date:  January 9, 2018

 

From Amazon:

A stand-alone fantasy tale from Seanan McGuire’s Alex-award winning Wayward Children series, which began in the Alex, Hugo, Nebula, and Locus Award-winning, World Fantasy Award finalist, Tiptree Honor List Every Heart a Doorway.

Beneath the Sugar Sky, the third book in McGuire’s Wayward Children series, returns to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children in a standalone contemporary fantasy for fans of all ages. At this magical boarding school, children who have experienced fantasy adventures are reintroduced to the “real” world.

When Rini lands with a literal splash in the pond behind Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children, the last thing she expects to find is that her mother, Sumi, died years before Rini was even conceived. But Rini can’t let Reality get in the way of her quest – not when she has an entire world to save! (Much more common than one would suppose.)

If she can’t find a way to restore her mother, Rini will have more than a world to save: she will never have been born in the first place. And in a world without magic, she doesn’t have long before Reality notices her existence and washes her away. Good thing the student body is well-acquainted with quests…

A tale of friendship, baking, and derring-do.

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I’d love to hear what upcoming book releases you’re waiting on this Wednesday? Leave me your link in the comments below and I’ll stop by and check out your CWW selection for this week. 🙂