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

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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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Blog Tour- Empress of a Thousand Skies Guest Post + Giveaway

EmpressBlogTour

I recently read Empress of a Thousand Skies and really loved it- it had a really vivid world and the characters were so likeable. I can’t wait to read more from Rhoda Belleza. Today I am honored to have her here to talk about her writing method and writing multiple point of views.

About the Book
EmpressofaThousandSkiesEmpress of a Thousand Skies
By: Rhoda Belleza
Release Date: February 7th
Publisher: Razorbill

Summary
Empress
Rhee, also known as Crown Princess Rhiannon Ta’an, is the sole surviving heir to a powerful dynasty. She’ll stop at nothing to avenge her family and claim her throne.

Fugitive
Aly has risen above his war refugee origins to find fame as the dashing star of a DroneVision show. But when he’s falsely accused of killing Rhee, he’s forced to prove his innocence to save his reputation – and his life.

Madman
With planets on the brink of war, Rhee and Aly are thrown together to confront a ruthless evil that threatens the fate of the entire galaxy.

A saga of vengeance, warfare, and the true meaning of legacy.

Guest Post

I’m somewhere in between a plotter and a pantser. I wrote the beginning of EMPRESS in a flurry just to get a sense of the character and voice, then I paused to outline the rest of the book. Once I got that in decent shape I dove back into writing, but I’d diverge from the outline and change the story as I went. Having that structure was important, but plenty of times I’d run astray as the characters pulled me in different directions. It was about trusting whether to stay on outline or experiment without that safety net; I wanted the movement and choices to feel organic, but I wanted to keep the plot as tight as possible.

The two POVs are Rhee and Aly, the empress presumed dead and the boy who supposedly killed her. Both are hiding, constantly moving, pursuing different goals that eventually converge. I usually nail down the choreography and plotting before I revise for the emotional components. I’m not just talking about the fight scenes, but the placement of characters in the galaxy and in relation to each other. It’s like I don’t even know how they feel until they have a setting and a context to physically exist in. My friend called it an analog to method acting, which may or may not be true. I’m not sure because I’m not an actor.

Rhee is royalty; she may be hardened by the loss of her family but she’s pampered too, and she has a sense of righteousness that felt so natural to write. I could get in a pretty heady space with her; she’s obsessed with revenge and pleasing her ancestors, and that tension just felt really right. That said, Rhee’s wound pretty tightly, so I was tapping into some stuff that could feel intense at times.

Aly comes from a different planet and an entirely different class. He’s a little bit of a smart ass and he tries to keep everything funny and casual, but underneath he’s struggling to keep it together—as a refugee he’s skating the line and trying to play a bit of identity politics. It doesn’t work out for him, and when he’s on the run he comes to some ugly realizations about the world that he needs to work through. Still, I didn’t want him to lose the optimism and humor that makes him him. His voice felt really natural in a different way from Rhee’s, and the writing of his chapters flowed easier—but going back in revision and digging into the emotion ended up being more challenging for his character.

Tour Schedule

EmpressBlogTourBanner

Week One:
2/6 – Brittany’s Book Rambles – Guest Post
2/6 – Bibliophile Gathering – Review
2/6 – Seeing Double in Neverland – Mood Board
2/7 – Tales of a Ravenous Reader – Excerpt
2/7 – In Wonderland – Review
2/8 – Across the Words – Character Fan Casting
2/8 – Novel Ink – Review
2/8 – Bookling Critics – Review
2/9 – The Young Folks – Interview
2/9 – Here’s to Happy Endings – Review
2/10 – Butter My Books – Book Look
2/10 – Ex Libris – Review
2/10 – My Friends Are Fiction – Guest Post
Week Two:
2/13 – Stories & Sweeties – Empress Cupcakes
2/13 – What Sarah Read – Guest Post
2/13 – MundieMoms – Review
2/14 – YA Wednesdays – Character Fashion
2/14 – Fiction Fare – Review
2/15 – Once Upon a Twilight – Favorite Quotes
2/15 – The Books Buzz – Review
2/15 – Take Me Away to a Great Read – Review
2/16 – The YA Book Traveler – Empress Trailer
2/16 – Bookworm Everlasting – Review
2/17 – The Forest of Words and Pages – Like/Try/Why
2/17 – The Paige Turner – Interview
2/17 – Fangirlish – Review

Giveaway

EmpressIG

Enter for a chance to win one (1) of three (3) signed copies of Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza (ARV: $17.99 each).
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on February 6, 2017 and 12:00 AM on February 20, 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 February 22, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

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