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- Traitor to the Throne Review and Giveaway

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I am so excited to be sharing my review of Traitor to the Throne as well as this giveaway. These books are just so good! I love them so. Without further ado here’s my review…

Review:

Ttraitortothethroneraitor to the Throne
By: Alwyn Hamilton
Release Date: March 7, 2017
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher

Summary:
The sizzling, un-put-downable sequel to the bestselling Rebel of the Sands!

Mere months ago, gunslinger Amani al’Hiza fled her dead-end hometown on the back of a mythical horse with the mysterious foreigner Jin, seeking only her own freedom. Now she’s fighting to liberate the entire desert nation of Miraji from a bloodthirsty sultan who slew his own father to capture the throne.

When Amani finds herself thrust into the epicenter of the regime—the Sultan’s palace—she’s determined to bring the tyrant down. Desperate to uncover the Sultan’s secrets by spying on his court, she tries to forget that Jin disappeared just as she was getting closest to him, and that she’s a prisoner of the enemy. But the longer she remains, the more she questions whether the Sultan is really the villain she’s been told he is, and who’s the real traitor to her sun-bleached, magic-filled homeland.

Forget everything you thought you knew about Miraji, about the rebellion, about djinni and Jin and the Blue-Eyed Bandit. In Traitor to the Throne, the only certainty is that everything will change.

My Thoughts:
I absolutely adored Rebel of the Sands and this sequel was fabulous though it does have a much different feel than Rebel had. Rebel was all action, shooting and that fun dialog between Amani and Jin. Traitor separates these two (both on their own journeys) and there was more focus on the politics surrounding Miragi and the Sultan. I enjoyed seeing these aspects of the story and I feel that it gives us a different understanding of the world and characters.

I’d be lying if I didn’t say I missed Jin. I love him so and he really wasn’t in this book nearly enough. I’m hoping that we’ll see much more in the next installment. I felt that it was necessary for the story to go in the direction it did and I still really love the world building and Amani. She’s such an amazing character and we really see some growth for her.

Go into this book expecting a bit of a slower story line than the first book. Rebel had me swept up and not able to put it down until I finished- this book I took more time to savor and enjoy the smaller details. Since we aren’t traveling the dessert in this book the setting takes place in a much smaller scale but this allows for the focus to be on other conflicts.

Hamilton has done such a great job with the mythology and magic in this world she’s created. I adore it and am constantly impressed with the side characters and the magic introduced.

Final Thoughts:
Traitor to the Throne has a different feel than Rebel did but I loved it. It was a slower read that was more focused more on politics and subtle character growth. Things have been set up wonderfully for the next installment which I need immediately.

Giveaway:

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Enter for a chance to win one (1) grand prize set of Alwyn Hamilton’s books, including a paperback copy of Rebel of the Sands and a hardcover of Traitor to the Throne, or to win one (1) of five (5) 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 March 6, 2017 and 12:00 AM on March 27, 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 29, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

Tour Schedule:

Week One:
3/6 – The YA Book Traveler – Mood Board
3/7 – Tales of the Ravenous Reader – Author Q&A
3/8 – Love is Not a Triangle – Review
3/9 – Mundie Moms – Review + Favorite Quotes
3/10 – Butter My Books – Guest Post
Week Two:
3/13 – Brittany’s Book Rambles – Guest Post
3/14 – The Eater of Books! – Favorite Quotes
3/15 – Two Chicks on Books – Author Q&A
3/16 – Lost in Lit – Review
3/17 – My Friends Are Fiction – Review
Week Three:
3/20 – The Yong Folks – Author Q&A
3/21 – The Book Addict’s Guide – Traitor Candle
3/22 – Seeing Double in Neverland – Review
3/23 – Bookworm Everlasting – Review
3/24 – Fiction Fare – Guest Post

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- 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

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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

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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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