Blog Tour- Review for Shadow Run by AdriAnne Strickland and Michael Miller + Giveaway

ShadowRunShadow Run
By: AdriAnne Strickland, Michael Miller
Release Date: March 21st 2017
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Format: E-ARC
Source: Publisher

Summary:
They can steal her home. They can attack her ship. But they cannot touch her crew.

Nev just started as the cargo hauler on the starship Kaitan Heritage. His captain, Qole, is the youngest-ever person on Alaxak to have her own ship. She’s brassy and bold, and she brooks no argument from her crew of orphans, fugitives, and con men. Nev can’t resist her, even if her ship is a rust bucket.

As for Nev, he’s handsome and impetuous—and Qole and the crew have no idea that he’s actually a prince in hiding. He thinks Qole holds the key to changing galactic civilization, but when her cooperation proves difficult to obtain, he resolves to get her to his home planet by any means necessary. Word of Nev’s presence on board spreads quickly to other ships, however. Soon a rival royal family is after Qole, and they’re more interested in stealing her abilities than in keeping her alive. Before he knows it, Nev’s mission to manipulate her becomes one to save her.

To survive, she’ll have to trust her would-be kidnapper. Nev may be royalty, but Qole is discovering a deep reservoir of power of her own—and stars have mercy on whoever tries to hurt her ship or her crew.

My Thoughts:
I had been really looking forward to Shadow Run since the cover revealed and I wasn’t disappointed. It was everything I wanted- adventure, great characters, snappy dialog and chemistry. What I didn’t expect was just how much I’d love the characters- especially the secondary ones. They were so well developed and I felt like part of Qole’s crew. Each member of the crew was given adequate time and personality.

Qole- wow what a character. She’s so strong and powerful but has so much internal struggles and I loved her dedication to her crew and her brother. She was so tough but also so incredibly loving. I can’t imagine how it must feel living with what she does and knowing her fate is somewhat decide. Her and Nev have such great chemistry and I loved all their scenes together. Nev was so easy for me to like- there was so much about him I could immediately discount (spoiled, his somewhat questionable approach to his goals) or hold against him but his heart. I couldn’t help but love him.

The very beginning was a tiny bit slow to me just as I tried to get myself absorbed into the world but a couple chapters in the pacing sped up and it became hard to put down. I loved the action scenes- they were so well done and I could visualize everything- the ships, planets and characters. I loved that this book sort of had a fantasy vibe in some aspects-  there are magical powers and a Prince. A Space Prince. If that’s not a selling point I don’t know what is.

Final Thoughts:
Shadow Run was a fast paced space adventure with incredible characters, dialog and chemistry. I can’t wait to read more about these characters.

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Giveaway

This is an US only giveaway. The prize (1 hardcover copy of Shadow Run) will be sent by the publisher.

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Blog Tour- Review for Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Welcome to the Strange the Dreamer blog tour! I’m the first stop and I’ll be sharing my attempt at a review. There are some books that seep into your veins and you aren’t the same after reading them- Strange the Dreamer is one of these books. I don’t feel I’m fully adequate to express myself in a review but below is my attempt. But first, let’s take a look at the book and author…

About the Book

StrangeTheDreamerStrange the Dreamer
By: Laini Taylor
Release Date: March 28, 2017
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Summary:
A new epic fantasy by National Book Award finalist and New York Times bestselling author Laini Taylor of the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy.

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around— and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance to lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? and if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

In this sweeping and breathtaking new novel by National Book Award finalist Laini Taylor, author of the New York Times bestselling Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy, the shadow of the past is as real as the ghosts who haunt the citadel of murdered gods. Fall into a mythical world of dread and wonder, moths and nightmares, love and carnage.

Welcome to Weep.

LINKS: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound

ABOUT LAINI TAYLOR:

Laini Taylor_Author Photo_AliSmith creditLaini Taylor is the New York Times bestselling author of the global sensation the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy: Daughter of Smoke & BoneDays of Blood & Starlight, and Dreams of Gods & Monsters, and the companion e-novella, Night of Cake & Puppets. She is also the author of the Dreamdark books Blackbringer and Silksinger, and the highly acclaimed Lips Touch: Three Times, a National Book Award finalist. Her newest book, Strange the Dreamer, is the first in a stunning new epic duology. Laini lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband, illustrator Jim Di Bartolo, and their daughter Clementine.

LINKS: Website | Twitter

My Review

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I am a long time fan of Laini Taylor’s work and couldn’t wait to get my hands on Strange the Dreamer. It lived up to every single expectation I had for it. Beautifully written, magical and a story that left me breathless. I don’t know how Taylor creates such detailed and exquisite worlds. And her characters! Just wow- Lazlo is real to me now as are all the population of Weep.

We follow Lazlo on his journey from junior librarian to Weep. He’s had a lifelong obsession with Weep and the idea of magic. To watch him realize that dream and get to experience what he’s wanted to for so long was wonderful. He also has such character growth as the story progressed. I loved reading from his view point and seeing this intricate world from his eyes.

The mystery around the city of Weep kept me completely mesmerized. I became just as enamored with it as Lazlo. I needed to know what all had happened in Weep’s past just as he did. The characters we meet in Weep are so well developed and detailed. I love the mix of dreamers, gods and myths in this book. It all ties so beautifully together.

Beyond just how intoxicating the characters and story are the writing itself is something else entirely. I can’t think of any other author that can write like Taylor can. Her words are literally magic. And because of this magical writing this book will cast a spell on you. It’s a long one- with a lot of characters and world building and you’ll want to savor it. Don’t go into this thinking it’ll be a quick read. You’ll want to take your time and really bask in the words and world.

In short- read this book as soon as possible.

Tour Schedule:

Week 1:
3/20: My Friends Are Fiction – Review
3/21: Alexa Loves Reading – Bookish Style Files
3/22: Mundie Moms – Review
3/23: What Sarah Read – Review
3/24: Reading Teen – Review

Week 2:
3/27: No BS Book Reviews – Makeup Collage
3/28: YA Bibliophile – Review
3/29: The Irish Banana Review – Review
3/30: Quite the Novel Idea – Review
3/31: Fiction Fare – Review

 

Blog Tour- Guest Post -The Valiant by Lesley Livingston + Giveaway

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I am so excited to be on The Valiant Blog Tour. Last year one of my bloggy dreams came true and I was asked to read the manuscript for this novel and provide a blurb. I still can’t believe my words made it on the advanced reading copies of this book. Since I read it so long ago I recently reread this book and loved it even more the second time around. I am honored to have the author, Lesley Livingston, here to talk about gladiatrix.

About the Book

thevaliantcoverThe Valiant
By: Lesley Livingston
Release Date: February 14th 2017
Publisher: Razorbill
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

Summary:

Lost to history, the story of the female gladiator has never been told. Until now.

Fallon is the daughter of a proud Celtic king and the younger sister of the legendary warrior Sorcha. When Fallon was just a child, Sorcha was killed while defending their home from the armies of Julius Caesar.

On the eve of her seventeenth birthday, Fallon is excited to follow in her sister’s footsteps and earn her place in her father’s war band. She never gets the chance.

Fallon is captured by ruthless brigands who sell her to an elite training school for female gladiators owned by none other than Julius Caesar himself. In a cruel twist of fate, the man who destroyed Fallon s family might be her only hope of survival.
Now, Fallon must overcome vicious rivalries, deadly fights in and out of the arena, and perhaps the most dangerous threat of all: her irresistible feelings for Cai, a young Roman soldier and her sworn enemy.

 Guest Post

I’ve always been fascinated by ancient history and it’s been in my mind to write a female gladiator story for quite awhile. Over the past few decades, the existence of gladiatrices in ancient Rome has been the subject of much debate among historians. While there is, of course, ample evidence of male gladiators, ancient texts and artifacts portraying female fighters in the arenas were sparse. Lost to history, the lives of these exceptional girls and women were shrouded in mystery. Were female gladiators a gimmick? A fad? Had they really even existed at all?

And then, in 2001, archaeologists unearthed an ancient Roman-era gravesite in Britain of a 1,900-year-old woman that proved, virtually beyond a doubt in the minds of many (myself included), that female gladiators were real. And they’d most likely led lives just as dangerous and dynamic as their male counterparts—and perhaps even more controversial.

The lavish contents of the burial hinted at the wealth of the occupant, but the grave itself was placed beyond the boundaries of the main cemetery, marking the woman as a likely outcast from society. Individual items left tantalizing clues: a lamp with a design depicting a fallen gladiator, and another depicting Anubis, the god of the dead traditionally associated with the profession. While it’s entirely plausible that the young woman in the grave was the wife or lover of a gladiator (a counter-theory which has been upheld by some scholars), why then the peculiar grave placement? The grave goods include stone pine incense—a fragrant offering long thought to be specifically associated with gladiators. Why would a gladiator’s paramour need incense used specifically to mask the stench of blood in the arenas?

There are other archaeological discoveries that point to the occurrence of female gladiators as more than just a rare novelty or gimmick as well. Like the relief sculpture found at Halicarnassus depicting two female fighters named “Achillea” and “Amazona” (a detail which I was delighted to spin to good use in The Valiant when it came to naming the academies where the girls train for the arena). But some of those artifacts, for the longest time, may have been misinterpreted.

I remember when I was much younger seeing a picture of a small bronze statue of a female clothed only in what looked like a breechclout, holding a curved blade high above her head. She was referred to for years as “the bather”. But even back when I first saw her, such an interpretation struck me (like the gladiator-lover grave theory) as rather sexist. I always wondered why a woman who was simply taking a bath would gesture triumphantly with a toiletry implement! To me, she looked like a warrior—and recent scholarly re-examination of the artifact all but confirms (again) that she was, in all likelihood, a gladiatrix.

Of course, once I started to write about what the lives of these girls and women might have been like, I had to do a lot of research into the lives of their male counterparts—weapons, daily routines, the environments in which they lived and trained—and adapt it for what might have been a Ludus for female fighters. Fortunately, there is an abundance of knowledge in that realm which can be adapted. I also delved into the lives of other female warrior societies, like the Celts and the Amazons, and extrapolated from there. Rituals, relationships, how society would have viewed such a person—for good or ill—and what she might have done had she ever actually won her freedom to reenter society, these were all questions I had to imagine the answers to. Tangible facts are thin on the ground where the gladiatrix is concerned, but there are enough tantalizing clues to weave a compelling tale of what might have been.

 

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Giveaway

Enter for a chance to win one (1) of five (5) copies of The Valiant by Lesley Livingston (ARV: $17.99 each).
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on February 13, 2017 and 12:00 AM on March 13, 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 15, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

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Blog Tour Schedule

Week One
2/13 – Tales of the Ravenous Reader – Gladiator Makeup
2/14 – Two Chicks on Books – Author Interview
2/15 – Alexa Loves Books – Weapon Spotlight: Bow & Arrow
2/16 – Novel Novice – Review
2/17 – Arctic Books – Review + Book Look
Week Two
2/20 – Brittany’s Book Rambles – Author Guest Post
2/21 – What Sarah Read – Review + Mood Board
2/22 – Mundie Moms – Weapon Spotlight: Shield
2/23 – ButterMyBooks – Author Interview
2/24 – Fiction Fare – Weapon Spotlight: Dimachaerus
Week Three
2/27 – Oh the Book Feels – Author Interview
2/28 – Seeing Double in Neverland – Weapon Spotlight: Gladius
3/1 – No More Grumpy Bookseller – Review
3/2 – The YA Book Traveler – Weapon Spotlight: Trident & Net
3/3 – My Friends Are Fiction – Author Guest Post
Week Four
3/6 – The Reading Nook Reviews – Weapon Spotlight: Spear
3/7 – A Page with a View – Like/Try/Why
3/8 – The Young Folks – Author Guest Post
3/9 – Icey Books – Quote Candy + Review
3/10 – Book Addict’s Guide – Bookish Scents

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.

THeBeastisAnAnimal

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.

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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