Mistress of Evil by Serena Valentino Giveaway

Can you believe Halloween is right around the corner? Do you do anything special? My family coordinates our costumes as a theme each year. This year we are doing a vampire theme. My son is going to be a vampire, my hubby will be a vampire hunter and I’m still undecided! What should I be?

One year we are going to have to do our favorite villains. Some of the best villains are from classic fairy tales especially the Disney versions. If you are a fan of Disney or villains you’ve got to check out the Villains series by Serena Valentino. The latest, Mistress of Evil: A Tale of the Dark Fairy, came out yesterday! Thanks to Disney-Hyperion for sending me a set of VILLAINS books, and for providing a prize pack!

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About the Book

The Disney Villains series by Serena Valentino explores how the antagonists in Disney movies became some of storytelling’s most iconic villains. In the first four Villains books, we see how the Evil Queen, the Beast, Ursula, and Maleficent fall into darkness, through the instigation of the mysterious Odd Sisters: Lucinda, Martha, and Ruby.

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Mistress of Evil: A Tale of the Dark Fairy
By: Serena Valentino
Release Date: October 3, 2017
Publisher:

Summary:
The tale is told as if it’s happening once upon a dream: the lovely maiden meets her handsome prince in the woods. The story has been told many times and in many ways. But always the maiden finds out that she is a princess-a princess who has been cursed by a dark fairy to prick her finger on a spindle and fall into an eternal sleep. Though her three good fairies try to protect her, the princess succumbs to the curse. But the power of good endures, as her true love defeats the fire-breathing dragon and awakens the princess with true love’s first kiss. The two live happily ever after.

And yet this is only half the story. So what of the dark fairy, Maleficent? Why does she curse the innocent princess? What led to her becoming so filled with malice, anger, and hatred? Many tales have tried to explain her motives. Here is one account, pulled down from the many passed down through the ages. It is a tale of love and betrayal, of magic and reveries. It is a tale of the Mistress of All Evil.

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About the Author

SerenaValentino_AuthorPhotoSerena Valentino has been weaving tales that combine mythos and guile for the past decade. She has earned critical acclaim in both the comic and horror domains, where she is known for her unique style of storytelling, bringing her readers into exquisitely frightening worlds filled with terror, beauty, and extraordinary protagonists. The books in her best-selling Villains series are best enjoyed when read in the following order: Fairest of All, The Beast Within, Poor Unfortunate Soul, and Mistress of All Evil.

Giveaway

THE VILLAINS SERIES: Get a little wicked this Halloween!

One (1) winner receives:

  • the complete set of Villains books
  • and a branded mug that changes colors when filled with hot water!

Giveaway open to US addresses only.

Prizing and samples provided by Disney-Hyperion
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review of Starfall by Melissa Landers

StarfallStarfall (Starflight #2)
By: Melissa Landers
Release Date: February 7th
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher

My Rating:
star

Summary:
When Princess Cassia Rose fled her home world of Eturia to escape an arranged marriage, she had no idea her sudden departure would spark a war. Now after two years hiding as a ship hand, she is finally returning to her beloved home, but not in the way she imagined. Shackled by bounty hunters, she is violently dragged back to account for her crimes. Her only solace is that the Banshee crew managed to evade capture, including Kane Arric, her best friend…with occasional benefits.

Meanwhile, Kane and the rest of the crew of the Banshee plan a desperate rescue mission. But when they arrive on Eturia, Cassia isn’t exactly in need of heroics—she’s claimed her birthright as Eturia’s queen, but has inherited a war-torn planet simmering with rebellion. Cassia must make alliances, and Kane, the bastard son of a merchant, isn’t a choice that will earn her any friends. Kane knows he will never find someone to replace Cassia—and is certain she returns his feelings—but how can he throw away his own promising future waiting on a queen?

When the outer realm is threatened by the dangerous Zhang mafia, Cassia, Kane and the rest of the Banshee crew uncover a horrifying conspiracy that endangers the entire universe. In the face of unspeakable evil, Cassia must confront her own family’s complicated legacy on Eturia and decide once and for all who her real family is.

My Thoughts:
I really enjoyed the first book, Starflight, so I was so excited to see that Landers was writing a companion book. All the same characters are in this story but this time we are reading from the point of views of Kane and Cassia. The events of this novel take place after what happened in Starflight and I loved seeing some of the after effects woven into this new storyline.

I always found the relationship between Kane and Cassia to be intriguing and knew there was much more to them than what we saw (with them as side characters) in the first book. I was so happy to see them as the center of this story. Cassia is an exiled princess and this book sets her back on her home planet. I loved that with this princess angle the story sort of felt like a sci fi/fantasy because her and Kane come from different social classes (star-crossed love), and an evil king set out to do anything to seek revenge.

Landers has a way with character chemistry and tension. She builds up the feelings between characters it’s tangible for the reader. That’s my favorite aspect of her writing and she didn’t let me down in Starfall. Not only does this book have romance but a great rebellion story. I wasn’t exactly sure how Landers would get these characters out of some of the situations they found themselves in so this was a page turner. I couldn’t stop reading because I was so eager to find out what would happen next.

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Final Thoughts:
I recommend these books to anyone that loves science fiction and quirky casts of characters. You could pick up and read either book first but I think publishing order (Starflight then Starfall) so that you don’t come across character spoilers.

Review of Summer of Sloane by Erin L. Schneider

SummerofSloaneSummer of Sloane
By: Erin L. Schneider
Release Date: May 3rd 2016
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Format: Print ARC
Source: Convention

My Rating:
star

Summary:
Warm Hawaiian sun. Lazy beach days. Flirty texts with her boyfriend back in Seattle.

These are the things seventeen-year-old Sloane McIntyre pictured when she imagined the summer she’d be spending at her mom’s home in Hawaii with her twin brother, Penn. Instead, after learning an unthinkable secret about her boyfriend, Tyler, and best friend, Mick, all she has is a fractured hand and a completely shattered heart.

Once she arrives in Honolulu, though, Sloane hopes that Hawaii might just be the escape she needs. With beach bonfires, old friends, exotic food, and the wonders of a waterproof cast, there’s no reason Sloane shouldn’t enjoy her summer. And when she meets Finn McAllister, the handsome son of a hotel magnate who doesn’t always play by the rules, she knows he’s the perfect distraction from everything that’s so wrong back home.

But it turns out a measly ocean isn’t nearly enough to stop all the emails, texts, and voicemails from her ex-boyfriend and ex-best friend, desperate to explain away their betrayal. And as her casual connection with Finn grows deeper, Sloane’s carefree summer might not be as easy to find as she’d hoped. Weighing years of history with Mick and Tyler against their deception, and the delicate possibility of new love, Sloane must decide when to forgive, and when to live for herself.

My Thoughts:
Look at that cover–so summery, bright and beautiful. If you read my blog often you’ll know I’m not usually all that eager to read contemporary fiction but I was really drawn to this book because of that cover and because it was set in Hawaii. Overall, I found this novel to be immensely readable and was wonderfully inspirational to me to want to get out and enjoy the sun and water.

There were elements I didn’t love and that mostly revolved around the miscommunication towards the end of the novel. I’m sure it was completely plausible, and possibly likely, that these characters would act the way that they did but it didn’t make for the best reading experience for me. There was so much misunderstanding and lack of sharing that it was rather frustrating to me. The characters assumed so much about one another- which sadly is very true to real life (but this felt a tad exaggerated especially towards the end). I think the major reason I don’t read contemporary is that I don’t like the main issue in the book being so heavily based in reality! I prefer to escape outside of what is plausible so this is a me issue rather than a real issue with the book.

Sloane was very relatable and likeable. I felt for her very deeply and cringed, gasped and generally felt what she felt as I read. I was hurt at what happened to her and the betrayal she faced. I couldn’t imagine how awful it must feel to be hurt by two people you trust the  most. I was so sad for her and angry. I commend the author for giving me the ability to feel so deeply even at the start of the novel.

The secondary characters were developed but oh did I want to throttle the majority of them rather often. Sloane’s best friend, boyfriend and new love interest, Finn, all were guilty of making me want to pull out my own hair. I was so frustrated with each of them. I did love some of the less looked at secondary characters and felt that the novel was populated with real feeling characters.

Sloane’s parents were lightly present in the novel (I’d preferred them being around a tad more) and they have their own rather shocking (at least to Sloane) reveal. This novel really encompassed such a hectic and trying time for this character it was a bit hard to read at times. I felt so bad for her. I did love the scenery and having been to Hawaii myself it was very easy for me to be there again.

I was a bit disappointed that we only ventured into the most wealthy sections of the islands though. Sloane’s mother and the majority of the people she knows are incredibly wealthy to an extreme. This allowed for some really amazing settings though- apartments with full window’s on the beach, fancy hotels and pent houses. I must admit I didn’t see that side of Hawaii (or life in general) so can’t say how realistic that aspect was.

Final Thoughts:
I really enjoyed Sloane’s character and the summer sun and ocean atmosphere of Summer of Sloane though the heavy reliance on miscommunication between the characters frustrated me. The author was very capable of making me feel what her characters felt and her descriptions of Hawaii made me wish I were there. Overall I’d say this is a great summer read (especially if you can be on the beach somewhere).

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Review of Starflight by Melissa Landers

StarflightStarflight
By: Melissa Landers
Release Date: February 2nd 2016
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher

A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating:
star

Summary:
Life in the outer realm is a lawless, dirty, hard existence, and Solara Brooks is hungry for it. Just out of the orphanage, she needs a fresh start in a place where nobody cares about the engine grease beneath her fingernails or the felony tattoos across her knuckles. She’s so desperate to reach the realm that she’s willing to indenture herself to Doran Spaulding, the rich and popular quarterback who made her life miserable all through high school, in exchange for passage aboard the spaceliner Zenith.

When a twist of fate lands them instead on the Banshee, a vessel of dubious repute, Doran learns he’s been framed on Earth for conspiracy. As he pursues a set of mysterious coordinates rumored to hold the key to clearing his name, he and Solara must get past their enmity to work together and evade those out for their arrest. Life on the Banshee may be tumultuous, but as Solara and Doran are forced to question everything they once believed about their world—and each other—the ship becomes home, and the eccentric crew family. But what Solara and Doran discover on the mysterious Planet X has the power to not only alter their lives, but the existence of everyone in the universe…

My Thoughts:
Starflight was so much fun to read-  it had all the things that I love in a science-fiction novel- rag tag ship crew, hate to love relationship, space-pirates, lots of action with a dash of romance. This was more in line with the Firefly type of science fiction… no heavy science talk or theories to digest. The pacing was fast with equal amounts of action and witty dialog between the characters.

This story starts with the main character, Solara, needing to escape Earth and try to make it out to the outer realms to establish a new life for herself. Of course, as these things go, the only way for Solara to get out of her current situation was to rely on the one person she dislikes the most- Doran. It’s all fairly predictable how these two will slowly grow to respect each other but it’s still so much fun to watch them warm up to one another. Landers’ does an amazing job creating character chemistry through their dialog and actions. As the reader, you feel their attitudes mutate and grow into something more.

Though I fully felt the chemistry between the leads I did struggle a small amount with Doran’s character arc. He was such a jerk to Solara in the beginning and in their past it was a tiny bit hard to believe he’d change his general attitude that easily. Overall, I think that Landers did a decent job of presenting him in a manner that was believable. But, I would have liked a tiny bit more time taken to develop his transformation and to have seen him push back a bit more at the situation he found himself in. Regardless of this teeny tiny complaint I still fell easily in love with the relationship and story.

The side characters were really fun as well and added a lot to the story. You’ve got to have the rag-tag crew in this type of book and Landers provides. Each crew member has a story to tell and though we only get bits about their past it’s enough to create empathy and compassion for their character. I was fully invested in each crew member on the Banshee.

In this type of sci-fi there is something so right about space lawlessness and a bunch of  criminal types creating their own law and order. I loved how Landers incorporated that with the outer realm as well as the pirate ship Solara finds herself on. These bits were so well done and fun to read. Though you could sort of see where the story was headed it never felt overly predictable and easily kept my interest. I wanted nothing more to be reading this book start to finish.

Final Thoughts:
Starflight was the type of book you want to completely lose yourself in and read start to finish in a sitting. With the fast pacing, character chemistry and witty dialog it was easy to love and left me wanting a follow up book. I’d love to read many more adventures with this cast of characters.

Stacking the Shelves

Merry Christmas to all those that celebrate! I hope you’ve had a great holiday and are looking forward to 2016! I can’t believe it’s right around the corner. I hope to do some blog resolutions, best of 2015, looking ahead, etc type posts but we’ll see.

Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga’s Reviews is a weekly meme where you show what books you’ve purchased, gotten from the library, received from giveaway, as gifts or for review.

The Books

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Thank you a million time to HarperTeen for all the lovely books! I can’t wait to dive into them all. Thank you also to my beautiful sister for Vicious (FINALLY I OWN IT) and Disney Hyperion for the HC of Their Fractured Light, Spencer Hill Press for Bookishly Ever After, Random House for Burning Midnight, and Abrams for The Steep and Thorny Way

Last Week’s Posts

That was it for me last week! I was enjoying the holidays and didn’t feel like posting. I have been writing up reviews and reading a lot so look for more posts coming soon. I’m hoping to get remotivated in the New Year.