Blog Tour- The Beast is an Animal by Peternelle van Arsdale Review

THeBeastisanAnimaljpgThe Beast is an Animal
By: Peternelle van Arsdale
Release Date: February 28th 2017
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

Summary:
A girl with a secret talent must save her village from the encroaching darkness in this haunting and deeply satisfying tale.

Alys was seven when the soul eaters came to her village.

These soul eaters, twin sisters who were abandoned by their father and slowly morphed into something not quite human, devour human souls. Alys, and all the other children, were spared—and they were sent to live in a neighboring village. There the devout people created a strict world where good and evil are as fundamental as the nursery rhymes children sing. Fear of the soul eaters—and of the Beast they believe guides them—rule village life. But the Beast is not what they think it is. And neither is Alys.

Inside, Alys feels connected to the soul eaters, and maybe even to the Beast itself. As she grows from a child to a teenager, she longs for the freedom of the forest. And she has a gift she can tell no one, for fear they will call her a witch. When disaster strikes, Alys finds herself on a journey to heal herself and her world. A journey that will take her through the darkest parts of the forest, where danger threatens her from the outside—and from within her own heart and soul.

My Thoughts:
I really didn’t know what to expect with this book- I was drawn in by the title and cover. I was immediately impressed with the story telling and writing and wanted to know more. The prologue was incredibly engaging and I loved that we got a little back story on the Soul Eaters.

This was a slower paced read- it almost felt like a very in depth middle grade book written at an adult pacing. The world was very interesting but I did feel a bit of disconnect from the characters. It was sort of like when you heard Little Red Riding Hood as a child- you are swept into the story but I’m not sure I connected with Little Red Riding Hood on a deep level.

Arsdale has a vivid, lush writing style which worked wonderfully for her world descriptions. It was easy to visualize the towns, the Soul Eaters and the Beast. I loved that there was a creepy aspect that was really beautifully illustrated in the beginning of the novel. The idea of a village that in one night all the adults are killed in their sleep and only the children remain in an artificial slumber- super creepy. Alys is different than the others and reading you never know exactly why.

The secondary cast was actually well developed and each had very unique characteristics and brought a lot to the storyline. There is a very minor romance but this book does not center around that aspect at all. It’s really a coming of age story in essence with a creepy backdrop. I love that this is a stand alone too.

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Final Thoughts:
Go into The Beast is An Animal expecting a creepy atmosphere, great story telling and a slower pace. I really loved the creepy Soul Eaters storyline and felt this book had some really original and unique story ideas.

Review of Hunted by Meagan Spooner

huntedcoverHunted
By: Meagan Spooner
Release Date: March 14th 2017
Publisher: HarperTeen
Format: E-ARC
Source: Edelweiss

My Rating:
star

Summary:
Beauty knows the Beast’s forest in her bones—and in her blood. Though she grew up with the city’s highest aristocrats, far from her father’s old lodge, she knows that the forest holds secrets and that her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering them.

So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there’s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas…or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva’s father’s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance.

Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territory—a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?

My Thoughts:
Beauty and the Beast has always been  my favorite fairy tale so I’m excited each time I see a retelling being published. Meagan Spooner is such a talented writer I couldn’t wait to see what she’d do with this classic. I wasn’t disappointed at all! It was fast paced, original and yet really pulled in the feeling of the original story.

This go around our Beauty was an accomplished hunter as well as being very good in the woods. Yeva (her nickname was Beauty) had two older sisters that she was very close to (not like the original tale where the sisters are cruel to her) and she was the closest to their widowed merchant father. As you read it all feels so familiar and comforting but the little differences are enough to keep the story unique and interesting. I had a vague knowledge of where the story would go but Spooner added in so many aspects that were original to this story it kept me completely captivated.

Yeva’s world had a very original magical element. As we read on more and more of the magic becomes clearer and Beauty’s role as well. This was the type of story that had layers to it- we have our direct storyline but also a smaller, internal story about the Beast that was revealed as well as the larger story arc. I really loved this element.

The Beast in this book was easy to like and he even had little chapters from his point of view. They were very short but I liked seeing a little bit of what was going on inside his mind. He was a complex character and I loved the chemistry he had with Beauty. I loved his dual nature and there were times I actually didn’t know how he’d react which upped the tension considerably.

I have to say my favorite character though was Doe Eyes- Beauty’s dog. I absolutely adored this pup and she brought so much charm to the story. I loved the bond she had to Beauty. I recently got my own dog so I was especially able to relate to the emotional connection these two had.

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Final Thoughts:
Hunted was exactly the type of retelling I’ve been wanting! It had the original tale’s vibe, and most of al,l great characters that had real chemistry.

Blog Tour- Review of To Catch a Killer by Sheryl Scarborough + Giveaway

tocatchakillerTo Catch a Killer
By: Sheryl Scarborough
Release Date: February 7th 2017
Publisher: Tor Teen
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

My Rating:
star

Summary:
Erin Blake has one of those names. A name that, like Natalee Holloway or Elizabeth Smart, is inextricably linked to a grisly crime. As a toddler, Erin survived for three days alongside the corpse of her murdered mother, and the case—which remains unsolved—fascinated a nation. Her father’s identity unknown, Erin was taken in by her mother’s best friend and has become a relatively normal teen in spite of the looming questions about her past.

Fourteen years later, Erin is once again at the center of a brutal homicide when she finds the body of her biology teacher. When questioned by the police, Erin tells almost the whole truth, but never voices her suspicions that her mother’s killer has struck again in order to protect the casework she’s secretly doing on her own.

Inspired by her uncle, an FBI agent, Erin has ramped up her forensic hobby into a full-blown cold-case investigation. This new murder makes her certain she’s close to the truth, but when all the evidence starts to point the authorities straight to Erin, she turns to her longtime crush (and fellow suspect) Journey Michaels to help her crack the case before it’s too late.

My Thoughts:
I am more and more into young adult thrillers and mysteries and To Catch a Killer was an excellent one. We follow Erin, who had an awful past. She witnessed her mother’s murder at 2 years old and since then she’s been famous for her surviving the tragic event. People in town look at her differently and her mother’s best friend, Rachel, Erin’s guardian refuses to talk to her about her mom or the past.

I found this to really give Erin a unique perspective and have her character stand out. I can’t imagine not knowing about my past and losing my mother at such a young age. Because of this Erin has an intense interest in forensics and spends her spare time bonding with her biology teacher and reading her Uncle Victor’s books about being in the FBI. Many times when a character tries their hand at forensics it comes off sort of cheesy and unrealistic. In this book, it’s done very well. I found it to be pretty believable and I honestly learned a thing or two. Each chapter has a quote from Victor’s book. These had some really interesting details I’d not ever heard. Like this one,

5o percent of human DNA is identical to the DNA of a banana (page 265 in the print arc)

I don’t know if I’ll ever look at a banana the same way. Honestly, Victor was my favorite character and I loved that Scarborough added those little quotes at the start of each chapter.

Some elements of the mystery were fairly obvious to me but it really didn’t take away from the story telling. I felt that it wasn’t obvious to the characters who the big bad was so I wasn’t frustrated that Erin wasn’t seeing blatantly obvious hints. Though this was a murder mystery there was a sweet romance that I felt was pretty realistic to high school. Yep, there’s some insta-love but it seemed pretty spot on to what I’d experienced as a teen. That constant drive to see your crush and the ever present thoughts of them.

The supporting cast of characters were well developed and I felt that they were easy to like. I felt they all had understandable motivations and Erin’s gal pals were very realistically portrayed. Journey, the love interest and basketball star, wasn’t my favorite at first but I’ll admit, the further I read the more I enjoyed him. He really grew on me and he was so much more complex than I expected at the start of the book.

Final Thoughts:
To Catch a Killer was a fast paced and entertaining murder mystery. I felt that the big reveal was a bit anti climatic but it was still really well done and a fun read. The forensic details were really well executed and I learned a thing or two.

Giveaway

This giveaway is open to US and Canada residents. The publisher is providing the giveaway prize and winner will have 48hrs to respond to email with their address information.
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Blog Tour Rebel of the Sands Bookstagram How To + Giveaway

RebelHowTo1

You might have noticed that I’m in love with #Bookstagram. Two of my favorite things are books and photography so combining these together to create fun, bookish pictures hits all the right notes. I wanted to show you what my process looks like. I’m including my set-up, an attempt I scrapped later and the picture before and after editing. I hope you enjoy this and please leave any questions you have in the comments.

But first let’s talk about the book- Rebel of the Sands was one of my very favorite books last year! If you haven’t read it be sure to add it (and of course enter the giveaway at the end of this post).

About the Book

RebelnewcoverpngShe’s more gunpowder than girl—and the fate of the desert lies in her hands.

Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mystical beasts still roam the wild and barren wastes, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinni still practice their magic. But there’s nothing mystical or magical about Dustwalk, the dead-end town that Amani can’t wait to escape from.

Destined to wind up “wed or dead,” Amani’s counting on her sharpshooting skills to get her out of Dustwalk. When she meets Jin, a mysterious and devastatingly handsome foreigner, in a shooting contest, she figures he’s the perfect escape route. But in all her years spent dreaming of leaving home, she never imagined she’d gallop away on a mythical horse, fleeing the murderous Sultan’s army, with a fugitive who’s wanted for treason. And she’d never have predicted she’d fall in love with him… or that he’d help her unlock the powerful truth of who she really is.

My Set-Up

rebelsetup

I’ve had several different set-ups but for now this is working best. I use bead board as my base and that big white thing in back is actually a table top. I found the light bounces nicely off of it so it is now a bookstagram prop. I have collected lots of props from craft stores and also décor I have around my house. Once you start to bookstagram you’ll never look at artificial flowers or random nick knacks the same.

I use natural light for my photographs and recently I’ve started using my Canon DSLR. Until last week I was using my iPhone 6 and had really great results.

What Props to Use

rebel2

I try to match my props to the cover- for this one I pulled flowers that had a similar color as the cover and I had to use my hour glass because- sand- Rebel of the Sands. I move things around until I find a set up I like and start shooting. As I go I make adjustments to how things are arranged and I typically take waaaay too many pictures and have to sift through them to find the one I like the best.

Editing

 

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When I was using my iPhone I did a lot of editing in various apps. I’d use Aviary and Snapseed. I also use the editing in Instagram itself. I love how sensitive Instagrams warmth editing is so a lot of the time I use it rather than an apps.

Now that I’m using my camera my editing is much less. I usually just adjust the brightness and do cropping.

If you’ve not read Rebel of the Sands now is the perfect time! The sequel, Traitor to the Throne will be out March 7th from Viking Books.

Tour Schedule

Week One
2/13 – ButterMyBooks – Rebel Scents
2/14 – Tales of the Ravenous Reader – Reasons to Read Rebel
2/15 – My Friends Are Fiction – Guide to Bookstagram Featuring Rebel
2/16 – The Reader Bee – 5 Reasons to Look Forward to Traitor
2/17 – Fiction Fare – Rebel Recap Part 1
Week Two
2/20 – USA Today Happily Ever After – Excerpt
2/21 – The Eater of Books! – Rebel Mood Board
2/22 – The YA Book Traveler – Fan made Rebel Trailer
2/23 – Lost in Lit – Rebel Book Look
2/24 – Mundie Moms – Rebel Recap Part 2
Week Three
2/27 – Seeing Double in Neverland – Rebel Makeup Looks
2/28 – A Page with a View – Favorite Repackages List Featuring Rebel
3/1 – What Sarah Read – Top 5 Reasons to Love Amani
3/2 – A Book and a Cup of Coffee – Rebel Playlist
3/3 – Once Upon a Twilight – Rebel Recap Part 3

Giveaway

Enter for a chance to win one (1) of ten (10) paperback copies of Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton (ARV: $10.99 each).
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on February 13, 2017 and 12:00 AM on March 6, 2017.  Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about March 8, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

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Frostblood by Elly Blake Giveaway and Quiz

I am so excited to be working with Little Brown Books for Young Readers on this giveaway of Frostblood by Elly Blake. I’ve read this and it was really wonderful and that cover! It is gorgeous. Be sure to take the quiz too to see if you are a Frostblood or Fireblood.

About the Book

FrostbloodFrostblood
By: Elly Blake
Release Date: January 10th 2017
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers 

Synopsis

The Frost King will burn.

Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a Fireblood who has concealed her powers of heat and flame from the cruel Frostblood ruling class her entire life. But when her mother is killed trying to protect her, and rebel Frostbloods demand her help to overthrow their bloodthirsty king, she agrees to come out of hiding, desperate to have her revenge.

Despite her unpredictable abilities, Ruby trains with the rebels and the infuriating—yet irresistible—Arcus, who seems to think of her as nothing more than a weapon. But before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to compete in the king’s tournaments that pit Fireblood prisoners against Frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her—and from the icy young man she has come to love.

Vivid and compelling, Frostblood is the first in an exhilarating series about a world where flame and ice are mortal enemies . . . but together create a power that could change everything.

About the Author

EllyBLakeElly Blake loves fairy tales, old houses, and owls. After earning a degree in English literature, she held a series of seemingly random jobs, including project manager, customs clerk, graphic designer, and reporter for a local business magazine before finally landing on her current job as a library assistant. She lives in Southwestern Ontario with her husband, kids, and a Siberian Husky mix that definitely shows frostblood tendencies.

Visit the Official Site
Follow @elly_blake and @TheNovl on Twitter

 

Giveaway

Where Flame And Ice Are Mortal Enemies: Pick a side! I’ve partnered with Little Brown to bring you this amazing giveaway… FrostbloodPolishPrize One (1) winner from your site receives:

    • a copy of Frostblood
  • branded nail polish duo in shades of fire and frost

Giveaway open to US addresses only.
Prizing and samples provided by Little, Brown & Co.
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