Monday, July 17, 2017

Review: Mad Miss Mimic by Sarah Henstra

Release date: January 3, 2017
Author info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: Razorbill Canada
Pages: 272
Format: Egalley
Source: Publisher provided for review through Netgalley
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
There are things I cannot say in any voice.

London, 1872. Seventeen-year-old heiress Leonora Somerville is preparing to be presented to upper-class society—again. She’s strikingly beautiful and going to be very rich, but Leo has a problem money can’t solve. A curious speech disorder causes her to stutter but allows her to imitate other people’s voices flawlessly. Servants and ladies alike call her “Mad Miss Mimic” behind her back…and watch as Leo unintentionally scares off one potential husband after another.

London is also a city gripped by opium fever. Leo’s brother-in-law, Dr. Dewhurst, and his new business partner, Francis Thornfax, are front-runners in the race to patent an injectable formula of the drug. Friendly, forthright, and devastatingly handsome, Thornfax seems immune to the gossip about Leo’s “madness.” But their courtship is endangered from the start. The mysterious Black Glove opium gang is setting off explosions across the city. The street urchins Dr. Dewhurst treats are dying of overdoses. And then there is Tom Rampling, the working-class boy Leo can’t seem to get off her mind.

As the violence closes in around her, Leo must find the links among the Black Glove’s attacks, Tom’s criminal past, the doctor’s dangerous cure, and Thornfax’s political ambitions. But first she must find her voice.
Weeeeeell. I was so excited to see that Mad Miss Mimic was going to be released in the US, after falling in love with the cover and the premise prior to its release in Canada.  I quickly requested it on Netgalley and read it. And it's taken me this long to write a review. So.

I suppose there's nothing overtly wrong with Mad Miss Mimic. When I finished (after rather laboriously making my way through), I was left mostly with boredom and sadness that I'd been so bored. Leo is a character who mostly just lets things happen around her, and gets lucky in the things that happen. Her speech impediment is a huge part of who she is, and that's done well, but a disability does not a book make.

 Not only all of that, but it's pretty obvious who our bad guy is going to be and the climax is not all that climactic. It's like there's a lot of interesting things, yet nothing has the punch it needs. Everything just left me feeling meh, and pretty sad I'd spent the hours to read the book, short as it is.

And, finally, I hate a lot of the ending. Any kind of power Leo has gained for herself is lost in the wallowing she does just before the ending, and it becomes so...simple. Somehow everything is made right (including Leo's speech impediment) and it's just not compelling.

Honestly, my advice is to skip this one. It's got so much that pushes my "love" buttons, but it just doesn't pay off. There are plenty more YA historical fiction novels you could read otherwise, and most would be a better use of your time. I'm sad to say it, but it's true.


About the author:

Sarah Henstra is the author of Mad Miss Mimic (Razorbill, 2015), an historical novel for young adults. She is a professor of English literature at Ryerson University, where she teaches courses in Gothic Horror, Fairy Tales & Fantasies, Psychoanalysis & Literature, and Creative Writing. She grew up on the wild, wet coast of British Columbia, but now she lives in Toronto, Ontario with her two sons.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Best of 2017... So Far

Six months of the year are over, so it's time for me to count down my top books of 2017 so far! This is one of my favorite posts to do every year, because it's a lot of fun to look over what I've read this year so far and see what I've loved. So far, I've read over 60 books this year, so I've got a few to pick from--and, especially in the last month or so, I've been reading some good books. This is gonna be hard!

So, in no particular order, my favorite books of the year so far:





So these are my favorites! I've given each five stars. I really wanted to keep it to ten, but I couldn't actually bear to cut one of these, so I went with eleven. Don't even let me think of the end of the year, when I really try to keep it to ten. 

I didn't include ACOWAR, even though I loved it, largely because it was the end of the series and I didn't love it as much as ACOMAF. It's a similar story with Devil in Spring, simply because it couldn't live up to Devil in Winter!

Three sequels, two contemporaries, and even something non-fiction! I'm actually surprised at my own variety, because I am such a fantasy reader. 

So, what are your favorite reads of the year so far? Let me know, or if you've written a post, link me to it! :)

Sunday, July 2, 2017

June Recap

Hiiii! I'm heeeeeere! I really thought I'd get better with the posting in June, but I failed. I've got a bunch of reviews nearly done, so hopefully I can get some out this month. I swear.

What books did I get?


A Million Junes by Emily Henry
Time and Time Again: A Collection by Tamara Ireland Stone
Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller
What to Say Next by Julie Buxbaum
The Best Kind of Magic by Crystal Cestari
Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray
The Knowing by Sharon Cameron

Give me a high five--I only bought two books! (That's because I bought a lot of candles...) This is the kind of month-long haul I like, because I definitely read more books than I got! Improvement! I got Mask of Shadows, What to Say Next, and The Best Kind of Magic for review (also an improvement!), and Lair of Dreams and The Knowing from trades! I'm especially excited to have The Knowing, because that keeps my Sharon Cameron ARC collection up to date, and I'm super curious to see how she's continuing the story.

Egalleys for review:


Just Another Viscount in Love by Vivienne Lorret
Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody


A Daring Arrangement by Joanna Shupe
Pacifica by Kristen Simmons

What did I post?

What did I read?

The Girl With the Make-Believe Husband by Julia Quinn
Duke of Shadows by Elizabeth Hoyt
Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray
The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen
Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone
What To Say Next by Julie Buxbaum
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Mass (audiobook reread)
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
The Day of the Duchess by Sarah MacLean

Currently reading: I actually just finished a book, so I'm rather undecided. I'm thinking of Want by Cindy Pon. Any other suggestions?
Favorite of the month: SIX OF CROWS. Oh my lord, this book.

What will I read?


I did such a bad job keeping to my TBR for last month (I read a grand total of two books from the fifteen I put on there), so I went with low expectations for myself. I know I'll get to Crooked Kingdom because I adored SoC so much, so there's that! At least a higher percentage than last month.

What am I doing?

Well, y'all know I was taking a summer class for grad school, and it seriously kicked my butt. It was a lot of reading entire books and then writing little essays on them. Then, in the course of about a week, I had three huge projects due. Each took me at least eight hours to complete, with a least one of them taking more like twelve. Needless to say, finishing was a relief.

Also, if you're familiar with the blog, it's looking a little different, no? I logged on the other day to get some posts written, only to find that all the images hosted with the person I bought my template from were over their usage, so none were showing up any more. So, I went ahead and got a new one! It looks pretty similar to what I had before, just a bit different. I'm still working out some kinks with it, but I think I'll ultimately be happy with it!

And I talked a lot about work last month. The cafe shifts are gone, because they hired several more people who are all trained up, so that's nice. However now, the company is mandating that we have "no task" hours every day, so times where we can't do anything but help customers. Problem is, we're short on hours, so we're behind on pretty much everything. It's one of those things where you just have to shrug your shoulders and get whatever you can done--which I am not good at. I'm handling it so far, but we'll see.

I'm still obsessed with bookish candles, though! I haven't gotten anymore, but I have a couple of orders on the way... I love them and I want them for everything!

Anyway, farewell! Cheers to a wonderful July!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Blog Tour: The Day of the Duchess (Scandal & Scoundrel #3) by Sarah MacLean {Review + Excerpt}


Release date: June 27, 2017
Author info: Website | Facebook | Twitter
Publisher: Avon Books
Pages: 400
Format: Egalley
Source: Publisher provided for review through Edelweiss
Buy the book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Google |iTunes | Kobo
The one woman he will never forget…

Malcolm Bevingstoke, Duke of Haven, has lived the last three years in self-imposed solitude, paying the price for a mistake he can never reverse and a love he lost forever. The dukedom does not wait, however, and Haven requires an heir, which means he must find himself a wife by summer’s end. There is only one problem—he already has one.

The one man she will never forgive…

After years in exile, Seraphina, Duchess of Haven, returns to London with a single goal—to reclaim the life she left and find happiness, unencumbered by the man who broke her heart. Haven offers her a deal; Sera can have her freedom, just as soon as she finds her replacement…which requires her to spend the summer in close quarters with the husband she does not want, but somehow cannot resist.

A love that neither can deny…

The duke has a single summer to woo his wife and convince her that, despite their broken past, he can give her forever, making every day...
From the beginning, I was so excited to read The Day of the Duchess. Almost all romance novels focus on the start and flourishing of a relationship, so after being introduced to Haven and Sera in such an interesting manner in The Rogue Not Taken (if you don't recall or haven't read it, Sera's sister, Sophie, shoves Haven into a fountain after finding him cheating on his pregnant wife), I knew the road to their happiness might not be a terribly happy one, but it would be worth the experience--and it was!

Certainly, making Haven into a sympathetic character was hard. All we've seen of him is his cheating and his pushing Seraphina away, but as we see moments from his point of view, while his actions are still not the best decisions, we can see more of his motivation. And what's more, his journey to understanding of Sera's feelings is wonderful. It's endearing to see him trying so hard to win her back, to see him truly fight for her, but it's even better to see him realize why he hasn't convinced her to be with him and make a change for her.

And Seraphina! Even through all of her heartbreak, she is made of steel, fighting through the pain to make a life for herself. In situations when other people would give up, let themselves go with the flow and let life take them down, she pushes back. But, what's even better is how much of the Soiled S's we're treated to! The sisters are truly one of the best parts of this series, and their loyalty to and love for one another is a joy over and over again.

I think what's most striking about this book, though, is how it covers how different people deal with grief. Even though the event is far enough past, the grief plays a huge part in forming who Sera and Haven have become and how their relationship reforms. Their emotional arc is more than a little heartbreaking, but it's also completely wonderful.

I've really enjoyed the Scandal & Scoundrel series so far, but The Day of the Duchess is by far my favorite of the series! It's a story with real emotional heft, yet there are also plenty of funny (courtesy of the wonderful Talbot sisters, mostly) and sweet moments.


About the author:

New York Times, Washington Post & USA Today bestseller Sarah MacLean is the author of historical romance novels that have been translated into more than twenty languages, and winner of back-to-back RITA Awards for best historical romance from the Romance Writers of America.

Sarah is a leading advocate for the romance genre, speaking widely on its place at the nexus of gender and cultural studies. She is the author of a monthly column celebrating the best of the genre for the Washington Post. Her work in support of romance and the women who read it earned her a place on Jezebel.com's Sheroes list of 2014 and led Entertainment Weekly to call her "gracefully furious." A graduate of Smith College & Harvard University, Sarah now lives in New York City with her husband and daughter.
Find Sarah online: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads




Chapter 1
DESERTED DUKE DISAVOWED!
August 19, 1836
House of Lords, Parliament


She’d left him two years, seven months ago, exactly.

Malcolm Marcus Bevingstoke, Duke of Haven looked to the tiny wooden calendar wheels inlaid into the blotter on his desk in his private office above the House of Lords.

August the nineteenth, 1836. The last day of the parliamentary session, filled with pomp and idle. And lingering memory. He spun the wheel with the six embossed upon it. Five. Four. He took a deep breath.

Get out. He heard his own words, cold and angry with betrayal, echoing with quiet menace. Don’t ever return.

He touched the wheel again. August became July. May. March.

January the nineteenth, 1834. The day she left.

His fingers moved without thought, finding comfort in the familiar click of the wheels.

April the seventeenth, 1833.

The way I feel about you . . . Her words now—soft and full of temptation. I’ve never felt anything like this.

He hadn’t, either. As though light and breath and hope had flooded the room, filling all the dark spaces. Filling his lungs and heart. And all because of her.

Until he’d discovered the truth. The truth, which had mattered so much until it hadn’t mattered at all.

Where had she gone?

The clock in the corner of the room ticked and tocked, counting the seconds until Haven was due in his seat in the hallowed main chamber of the House of Lords, where men of higher purpose and passion had sat before him for generations. His fingers played the little calendar like a virtuoso, as though they’d done this dance a hundred times before. A thousand.

And they had.

March the first, 1833. The day they met.

So, they let simply anyone become a duke, do they? No deference. Teasing and charm and pure, unadulterated beauty.

If you think dukes are bad, imagine what they accept from duchesses?

That smile. As though she’d never met another man. As though she’d never wanted to. He’d been hers the moment he’d seen that smile. Before that. Imagine, indeed.

And then it had fallen apart. He’d lost everything, and then lost her. Or perhaps it had been the reverse. Or perhaps it was all the same.

Would there ever be a time when he stopped thinking of her? Ever a date that did not remind him of her? Of the time that had stretched like an eternity since she’d left?

Where had she gone?

The clock struck eleven, heavy chimes sounding in the room, echoed by a dozen others sounding down the long, oaken corridor beyond, summoning men of longstanding name to the duty that had been theirs before they drew breath.

Haven spun the calendar wheels with force, leaving them as they lay. November the thirty-seventh, 3842. A fine date—one on which he had absolutely no chance of thinking of her.


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Sunday, June 25, 2017

Blog Tour: What To Say Next by Julie Buxbaum {Review|

Release date: July 11, 2017
Author info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Pages: 272
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher provided for review
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
Sometimes a new perspective is all that is needed to make sense of the world.

KIT: I don’t know why I decide not to sit with Annie and Violet at lunch. It feels like no one here gets what I’m going through. How could they? I don’t even understand.

DAVID: In the 622 days I’ve attended Mapleview High, Kit Lowell is the first person to sit at my lunch table. I mean, I’ve never once sat with someone until now. “So your dad is dead,” I say to Kit, because this is a fact I’ve recently learned about her. 

When an unlikely friendship is sparked between relatively popular Kit Lowell and socially isolated David Drucker, everyone is surprised, most of all Kit and David. Kit appreciates David’s blunt honesty—in fact, she finds it bizarrely refreshing. David welcomes Kit’s attention and her inquisitive nature. When she asks for his help figuring out the how and why of her dad’s tragic car accident, David is all in. But neither of them can predict what they’ll find. Can their friendship survive the truth?
I adored Julie Buxbaum's YA debut, Tell Me Three Things, so when I was offered the opportunity to be on another blog tour for her second YA novel, What to Say Next, of course I jumped! And while this book is rather a different read, it's just as delightful as her first.

Kit is reeling from the sudden death of her beloved father in a car accident. She doesn't feel like herself. She doesn't feel like pretending to be the person she was before the accident. On the thirtieth day after, she can't take anymore, so she sits with David Drucker, thinking he will let her be in peace. David is perhaps the class oddball; he navigates the halls with headphones, and he doesn't speak to much of anyone, keeping his thoughts and observations in a notebook. As the two form a friendship, their worlds are rocked--in more way than one.

There's so much to love in this book! I have to start with the friendship between Kit and David. There were times I wanted to holler at Kit because she didn't understand David--but I can't say I would have either, I just had the luxury of being in his head. But as they become friends, Kit begins to understand David and how he works, and David starts to understand the nuances of Kit. There's a lot in the synopsis about the two "solving the mystery" of Kit's dad's accident, but it really doesn't play much into the story, except in one or two moments. To me, most of the story is Kit coming to terms with her dad's death and David coming out of his shell.

However, the true highlight of What to Say Next is David. I'm about the farthest person from an expert on Autism, but being in his head seems quite authentic from my limited knowledge. (I'd love to know from someone with experience!) He's not diagnosed, but he's definitely on the spectrum somewhere. He's sweet, brutally honest, and completely genuine. Being in his head is truly fascinating, and something that made the book memorable and even more of a joy to read.

Well, did I like What to Say Next? I feel as if it might be obvious that I loved it! Not only is it a touching story to read, but Buxbaum weaves in a lot of nuance and emotion that can often be lost in your typical YA contemporary romance. Read both of her books now!

About the author:

Julie Buxbaum is the New York Times best selling author of Tell Me Three Things, her young adult debut, and the critically acclaimed novels The Opposite of Love and After You. Her work has been translated into twenty-five languages. Julie’s writing has appeared in various publications, including The New York Times. She is a former lawyer and graduate of Harvard Law School and lives in Los Angeles with her husband, two young children, and an immortal goldfish. Visit Julie online at www.juliebuxbaum.com and follow @juliebux on Twitter.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Blog Tour: The Girl With the Make-Believe Husband (Rokesbys #2) by Julia Quinn {Review + Giveaway}


Release date: May 30, 2017
Author info: Website | Facebook | Goodreads
Publisher: Avon
Pages: 384
Format: Egalley
Source: Publisher provided for review through Edelweiss
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository | Google | iTunes | Kobo
While you were sleeping... 

With her brother Thomas injured on the battlefront in the Colonies, orphaned Cecilia Harcourt has two unbearable choices: move in with a maiden aunt or marry a scheming cousin. Instead, she chooses option three and travels across the Atlantic, determined to nurse her brother back to health. But after a week of searching, she finds not her brother but his best friend, the handsome officer Edward Rokesby. He's unconscious and in desperate need of her care, and Cecilia vows that she will save this soldier's life, even if staying by his side means telling one little lie...

I told everyone I was your wife 

When Edward comes to, he's more than a little confused. The blow to his head knocked out six months of his memory, but surely he would recall getting married. He knows who Cecilia Harcourt is—even if he does not recall her face—and with everyone calling her his wife, he decides it must be true, even though he'd always assumed he'd marry his neighbor back in England.

If only it were true... 

Cecilia risks her entire future by giving herself—completely—to the man she loves. But when the truth comes out, Edward may have a few surprises of his own for the new Mrs. Rokesby.
I've been dying for The Girl With the Make-Believe Husband for ages. Two reasons: First, Julia Quinn has never let me down. She's never not delivered an adorable book. Second, who could resist the While You Were Sleeping angle in historical romance? And of course, Julia Quinn didn't fail me--nor did the premise!

As much as I love my historical romances set in England, it was a lot of fun to read a story set in the US, especially during the American Revolution. It's interesting to see this time from the British perspective since, being an American, we're always given stories from our side. However, the revolution itself doesn't play into the story much, aside from location. It's almost more that a war of some kind is going on, but it's not all that specific to this war. Still fun, just not integral.

What I think is so fun about Edward and Cecelia's relationship is that they actually know each other a bit before the events of the book--though they've never met in person. In letters exchanged with her brother, Cecelia and Edward have written short notes back and forth, getting information secondhand though Thomas. The content of these notes is revealed over the course of the book, and it's fun to see the original base of their relationship while they're falling in love.

The only less than fun part is Cecelia's guilt over lying to Edward. Her actions are...understandable, at the very least, but it doesn't make the situation any less awkward. Over and over again, I just wanted her to tell him! On the flip side, I thought the ending was absolutely perfect. I don't want to say what happens, but I finished the book grinning like a total fool.

If you're a fan of Julia Quinn already, it should be a no brainer to pick up The Girl With the Make-Believe Husband! If not, (first, WHY?) how could you say not to a sweet romance that takes off from a beloved romantic comedy? It's the best of both worlds!

About the author:

Julia Quinn is the New York Times bestselling author of twenty-five novels for Avon Books, and one of only sixteen authors ever to be inducted in the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family.




My Example
Manhattan Island
July 1779


His head hurt.

Correction, his head really hurt.

It was hard to tell, though, just what sort of pain it was. He might have been shot through the head with a musket ball. That seemed plausible, given his current location in New York (or was it Connecticut?) and his current occupation as a captain in His Majesty’s army.

There was a war going on, in case one hadn’t noticed.

But this particular pounding—the one that felt more like someone was bashing his skull with a cannon (not a cannonball, mind you, but an actual cannon) seemed to indicate that he had been attacked with a blunter instrument than a bullet.

An anvil, perhaps. Dropped from a second-story window.

But if one cared to look on the bright side, a pain such as this did seem to indicate that he wasn’t dead, which was also a plausible fate, given all the same facts that had led him to believe he might have been shot.

That war he’d mentioned... people did die.

With alarming regularity.

So he wasn’t dead. That was good. But he also wasn’t sure where he was, precisely. The obvious next step would be to open his eyes, but his eyelids were translucent enough for him to realize that it was the middle of the day, and while he did like to look on the metaphorical bright side, he was fairly certain that the literal one would prove blinding.

So he kept his eyes closed.

But he listened.

He wasn’t alone. He couldn’t make out any actual conversation, but a low buzz of words and activity filtered through the air. People were moving about, setting objects on tables, maybe pulling a chair across the floor.

Someone was moaning in pain

Most of the voices were male, but there was at least one lady nearby. She was close enough that he could hear her breathing. She made little noises as she went about her business, which he soon realized included tucking blankets around him and touching his forehead with the back of her hand.

He liked these little noises, the tiny little mmms and sighs she probably had no idea she was making. And she smelled nice, a bit like lemons, a bit like soap.

And a bit like hard work.

He knew that smell. He’d worn it himself, albeit usually only briefly until it turned into a full-fledged stink.

On her, though, it was more than pleasant. Perhaps a little earthy. And he wondered who she was, to be tending to him so diligently.

“How is he today?”

Edward held himself still. This male voice was new, and he wasn’t sure he wanted anyone to know he was awake yet.

Although he wasn’t sure why he felt this hesitancy.

“The same,” came the woman’s reply.

“I am concerned. If he doesn’t wake up soon...”

“I know,” the woman said. There was a touch of irritation in her voice, which Edward found curious.

“Have you been able to get him to take broth?”

“Just a few spoonfuls. I was afraid he would choke if I attempted any more than that.”

The man made a vague noise of approval. “Remind me how long he has been like this?”

“A week, sir. Four days before I arrived, and three since.”

A week. Edward thought about this. A week meant it must be... March? April?

No, maybe it was only February. And this was probably New York, not Connecticut.

But that still didn’t explain why his head hurt so bloody much. Clearly he’d been in some sort of an accident. Or had he been attacked?

“There has been no change at all?” the man asked, even though the lady had just said as much.

But she must have had far more patience than Edward, because she replied in a quiet, clear voice, “No, sir. None.”

The man made a noise that wasn’t quite a grunt. Edward found it impossible to interpret.

“Er...” The woman cleared her throat. “Have you any news of my brother?”
Her brother? Who was her brother?

“I am afraid not, Mrs. Rokesby.”

Mrs. Rokesby?

“It has been nearly two months,” she said quietly.

Mrs. Rokesby? Edward really wanted them to get back to that point. There was only one Rokesby in North America as far as he knew, and that was him. So if she was Mrs. Rokesby...

“I think,” the male voice said, “that your energies would be better spent tending to your husband.”

Husband?

“I assure you,” she said, and there was that touch of irritation again, “that I have been caring for him most faithfully.”

Husband? They were calling him her husband? Was he married? He couldn’t be married. How could he be married and not remember it?

Who was this woman?

Edward’s heart began to pound. What the devil was happening to him?

“Did he just make a noise?” the man asked.

“I... I don’t think so.”

She moved then, quickly. Hands touched him, his cheek, then his chest, and even through her obvious concern, there was something soothing in her motions, something undeniably right.


“Edward?” she asked, taking his hand. She stroked it several times, her fingers brushing lightly over his skin. “Can you hear me?”

He ought to respond. She was worried. What kind of gentleman did not act to relieve a lady’s distress?

“I fear he may be lost to us,” the man said, with far less gentleness than Edward thought appropriate.

“He still breathes,” the woman said in a steely voice.

The man said nothing, but his expression must have been one of pity, because she said it again, more loudly this time.

He still breathes.

“Mrs. Rokesby...”

Edward felt her hand tighten around his. Then she placed her other on top, her fingers resting lightly on his knuckles. It was the smallest sort of embrace, but Edward felt it down to his soul.

“He still breathes, Colonel,” she said with quiet resolve. “And while he does, I will be here. I may not be able to help Thomas, but—”

Thomas. Thomas Harcourt. That was the connection. This must be his sister. Cecilia. He knew her well.

Or not. He’d never actually met the lady, he felt like he knew her. She wrote to her brother with a diligence that was unmatched in the regiment. Thomas received twice as much mail as Edward, and Edward had four siblings to Thomas’s one.

Cecilia Harcourt. What on earth was she doing in North America? She was supposed to be in Derbyshire, in that little town Thomas had been so eager to leave. The one with the hot springs. Matlock. No, Matlock Bath.

Edward had never been, but he thought it sounded charming. Not the way Thomas described it, of course; he liked the bustle of city life and couldn’t wait to take a commission and depart his village. But Cecilia was different. In her letters, the small Derbyshire town came alive, and Edward almost felt that he would recognize her neighbors if he ever went to visit.

She was witty. Lord, she was witty. Thomas used to laugh so much at her missives that Edward finally made him read them out loud.

Then one day, when Thomas was penning his response, Edward interrupted so many times that Thomas finally shoved out his chair and held forth his quill.

“You write to her,” he’d said.

So he did.

Not on his own, of course. Edward could never have written to her directly. It would have been the worst sort of impropriety, and he would not have insulted her in such a manner. But he took to scribbling a few lines at the end of Thomas’s letters, and whenever she replied, she had a few lines for him.

Thomas carried a miniature of her, and even though he said it was several years old, Edward had found himself staring at it, studying the small portrait of the young woman, wondering if her hair really was that remarkable golden color, or if she really did smile that way, lips closed and mysterious.

Somehow he thought not. She did not strike him as a woman with secrets. Her smile would be sunny and free. Edward had even thought he’d like to meet her once this godforsaken war was over. He’d never said anything to Thomas, though.

That would have been strange.

Now Cecilia was here. In the colonies. Which made absolutely no sense, but then again, what did? Edward’s head was injured, and Thomas seemed to be missing, and...

Edward thought hard.

...and he seemed to have married Cecilia Harcourt.

He opened his eyes and tried to focus on the green-eyed woman peering down at him. “Cecilia?”




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Thursday, June 1, 2017

May Recap

Again, I'm not doing as well blogging as I'd like. HOWEVER, I'm improving! I'm just going to take things a step at a time. Just keep getting better. I'm finding balance in work/school/blogging--just in time to be done with school for a bit! I'll finish this summer class on the 20th, and finally have some time off, which I am very much looking forward to. I've done SO MUCH reading for this class, which is fun, but it keeps me from my review books and fun books, which is less fun.

What books did I get?

This is a lot of books, but I only bought one of them! (I'm actually missing a couple, but they were for class: Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen, Undertow by Michael Buckley, and A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park. I bought them, but they don't count!)


Alexander Hamilton, Revolutionary by Martha Brockenbrough
Finding You by Lydia Albano
The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater
You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins
The Lost Kingdom of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine
Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy
The Millionaire Rogue by Jessica Peterson
The Duke Can Go to the Devil by Erin Knightley
Darling Beast by Elizabeth Hoyt
Forbidden by Beverly Jenkins
How the Duke Was Won by Lenora Bell
My American Duchess by Eloisa James
Lady Bridget's Diary by Maya Rodale

And only one of those was bought! I got my ACOWAR from Books of Wonder so it could be signed and personalized like all my other SJM books! All the Macmillan books, Ramona Blue, and Hunting Prince Dracula were for review. I about died when I opened the package with HPD because, seriously, it's the only ARC I've wanted for months! And I've already read (and ADORED) it. :) 

Then, the wonderful Alyssa surprised me with a giant package of historical romance! We'd talked about her sending me some books a while back, but I thought we'd talk about it again before it happened, and then one day this package was at my house! It was such a sweet surprise, and I'm so pumped about everything she sent me. I LOVE the UK editions, especially!


What did I post?

I'm getting a little bit better, I swear! I'm letting myself ramp up with no pressure, and it's working. June should look even better, especially once my class ends!

April Recap
Review: The Forgetting by Sharon Cameron
Review: Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves
Blog Tour: Refuge for Masterminds by Kathleen Baldwin {Fun Fact + Excerpt + Giveaway}

I will point out that everything but the recap was in the second half of the month, so see? Getting better... Slowly.

What did I read?


Currently reading: The Girl With the Make-Believe Husband (Rokesbys #2) by Julia Quinn
Favorite of the month: Hunting Prince Dracula! I read a couple of really good books this month (ACOWAR, Always and Forever Lara Jean, Midwinterblood, I'm looking at y'all!) but HPD really lived up to the excitement I'd built for it in my mind--even after rereading SJTR first!--and only made me even more desperate for the third book. (ACOWAR was the biggest contender, but, as much as I enjoyed it, I still love ACOMAF more.)

What will I read?


You can tell it's summer because I picked almost all contemporaries and historical romance! I love reading fun and light stuff in the summer--plus a bunch of these are review copies coming out in July or August. And after loving Alex, Approximately, I know I HAVE to get to The Anatomical Shape of a Heart ASAP. Plus, I'm going to relieve Alyssa and try and catch up on the Maiden Lane books! That's every one that I haven't read that I own in the pile.

I believe I've only got one more book to read for this class, so once that's out of the way, my reading should start to pick up--and once class is over on the 20th, I should be able to start flying through some books! I can't wait for no homework!

What am I doing?

Well, on the no spending money thing, I'm doing pretty well! We're doing employee appreciation at work this week, where we get extra discounts, but I've not bought anything, and there's actually nothing I'm really pining for! Usually I buy a lot of books I've loved and want finished copies of during employee appreciation, but it's something I'm just going to table this time around. I need to be able to afford school and Disney more than I need more books, Maybe if I can get rid of the piles on my floor? (HA!)

Otherwise, life is school and work. I've been working a lot of weird shifts because our cafe is shorthanded (and I started in cafe when I first started working at B&N), so I've been over there a lot. Like three days a week a lot. I was mad about it at first, but I've kind of made my peace for this time around. This is mostly because people have been helping me and the kid's department out in the meantime, so I'm not swamped in work on the day or two I actually get in the department. I'm also getting tips, which I'm earmarking for bookish candles because that's my new obsession! Basically, in the cafe, you're paid your hourly wage, but while you can't keep out a tip jar or anything, you can take tips that are offered. On good days, you can make $10 in tips--which is just free money on top of your actual wages! So, mine is going in the bank so I can buy candles, which is also helping me be less salty about the cafe shifts.

I have realized that I managed to miss my blogoversary! I've been blogging for 6 years, y'all. I didn't think about it till maybe 10 pm on the night of the 29th, which is the day. Oops! I'll mull it over and see if I want to do anything for it, but it did happen! I literally had to double check to make sure it was 6 years, because it felt like too long! I can barely believe it--but the post dates don't lie!

And that's it! I feel like I had a lot to say this time around... Maybe it's just the paragraph about work. We've had some turmoil and movement in the store, so it's been kind of weird time. If you had heard me at the beginning of the month, I'd have had a lot more to say, but I've chilled with it a lot--and the shifts are getting better at this point. The most recent schedule doesn't have me in cafe at all, so the end may just be in sight. Fingers crossed!

Also, if you have bookish candle shops you love (and/or scents!), let me know! I've bought from Novelly Yours and Wick & Fable and generally been pleased, but I'd love to hear some recommendations for other shops! (Especially if you're not a rep for them? Instagram has lots of raves and pictures, but I can't fully trust a rep... You know?)

Friday, May 26, 2017

Blog Tour: Refuge for Masterminds (Stranje House #3) by Kathleen Baldwin {Fun Fact + Excerpt + Giveaway}


I'm super excited to have the blog tour for Refuge for Masterminds, which is OUT NOW, stopping by today! I've only read the first book in this series so far, but it was such fun, and I'm definitely going to be catching up as soon as I can. Today I get to share a fun fact from Kathleen, an excerpt, and a giveaway! Read on, y'all! :)

About the book:

The stakes in this game of spies are life and death.
  
Lady Jane Moore has a secret. A secret that must be kept buried. If anyone discovered the truth, her life at Stranje House would crumble. And with Napoleon Bonaparte threatening to invade England, everyone at Stranje House is already in mortal danger.

There’s a traitor in the house. Someone is sneaking information to Napoleon’s spies, Lady Daneska and Ghost. Jane is determined to find out who it is before suspicions rip apart the bonds of friendship at Stranje House. Her desperate hunt for the traitor ensnares a brash young American inventor, Alexander Sinclair, Robert Fulton’s nephew, into an ambush that puts his life in danger. Sinclair is the most maddening young man in all of Christendom, a sharp-tongued rascal with boorish manners, but Lady Jane cannot bear the thought of the golden-haired genius being harmed.

Is Jane enough of a mastermind to save Alexander, her friends at Stranje House, and possibly England itself?

Fans of Gail Carriger, Patricia Wrede, and Caroline Stevermer will love this Regency-era alternate history filled with spunky heroines, handsome young lords, and dastardly villains.

Fun Fact #3




I am kind of a history nerd. I am crazy about doing research.

I know, I know, what kind of lunatic loves that? I mean no one enjoys doing research papers in school, do they? 

Oh, wait, yes, I do, I do! Waving hand. 

My little researcher’s heart goes absolutely crazy over authenticity. It’s an obsession. Nay, a sickness really. 

Anyway, to make certain I had the details of Ghost’s ship correct in REFUGE FOR MASTERMINDS, I needed to go aboard an honest to goodness ship from the Regency era. So, a friend and I went to a maritime museum in San Diego. We clambered down narrow stairwells into the cargo hold, the crew’s quarters (a bunch of hammocks in the hold), passenger berths, the captain’s quarters, the artillery deck, and even the kitchen.

I now know what it feels like to be aboard an old ship, and I’m grateful it was only for an hour. 

You guys, ships are so tiny! I have no idea how the sailors and passengers could live like that for months at a time. 


Super squishy.


Excerpt from
Chapter 15
Clocks and Cobras


(Wherein Alexander Sinclair, the boorish American Inventor, has come to Lady Jane for a dance lesson)

The Grand Salon at Haversmythe house is an elegant soft blue with lavish white moldings. Queen Anne chairs, upholstered in a matching blue velvet, are arranged along the walls. Two enormous chandeliers hang from the ceiling. One is lit for this evening, and it glitters with fifteen brightly glowing candles. The floor is smooth and waxed to a brilliant shine. But the most notable feature, is how perfectly this room sets off Mr. Sinclair’s features.

He is clad in his new Corinthian black coat and navy blue breeches. I will not remark on how his hair glows in the candlelight, nor how the blue walls are a perfect foil for his angelic features. The effect is somewhat marred by the fact that he is smiling at me like a roguish pickpocket.

He bows over my hand and one might almost think him a gentleman. I run through all the things I should like him to say.

I’m yours to command, Lady Jane.

You look perfectly stunning in that gown, my lady.

My dearest Jane, I’ve been counting each torturous minute until this moment.

To all these compliments, I plan to offer a ladylike laugh, and playfully scold him the way Lady Jersey would. I will say, mind your tongue Alexander Sinclair, and then smile coyly.

He rises from his bow, and I perform a slow languid curtsy.

“All right, Lady Jane, what are you up to?” He stares down his nose at me. Which, by the way, looks as if it was broken at one time or another. There is a decided knot in the fine lines of the bone. “I see cogs turning in that dangerous little head of yours.”

Dangerous. Not pretty. Of all the things he could’ve called my head, lovely, or even clever, he chooses to say dangerous. What’s worse, I am completely innocent of plotting at the moment. I was merely enjoying looking at him.

“I’m not up to anything.” I cross my arms. “Why should I be?”

“Because you always are.” He says this with a modicum of respect, as if it is not entirely an insult, even though it is. “Craftier than a mongoose chasing a cobra, you are. I never know what to expect.”

A mongoose?

Suddenly, I want to punch him. My fists are balled and I have half a mind to actually do the deed, except that would not be ladylike, and fortunately for him Captain Grey and Miss Stranje are approaching, otherwise I might fling caution to the wind and smack him properly, right there on his angelic cheek.

Mongoose, indeed.

Miss Stranje greets Mr. Sinclair, and says, “Lady Jane, we will leave you and the others to instruct Mr. Sinclair on the finer points of our English country dances. Mind you, the gentlemen have an early morning tomorrow. So, you only have an hour and a half before they must take their leave.”

Mr. Sinclair bows to her and holds out his arm to me. “I am ready for your instruction, my lady.”

“I’m surprised you would trust a mongoose.”

“With my life, your majesty.” He adds a jaunty smile. But his flippant remark, with my life, jolts me back to the cold cruel fact that his life may indeed rely on whether or not I can catch the cobra.
My fists uncurl.

Buy Refuge for Masterminds: Barnes & Noble | Amazon


Previous books in the series:


Buy A School for Unusual Girls: Barnes & Noble | Amazon
Buy Exile for Dreamers: Barnes & Noble | Amazon

About the author:

Kathleen Baldwin loves adventure in books and in real life. She taught rock climbing in the Rockies, survival camped in the desert, was stalked by a mountain lion, lost an argument with a rattlesnake, spent way too long in college, fell in love and married her very own hero.

A SCHOOL FOR UNUSUAL GIRLS, the first book in the alternate history series for teens, was awarded Spirit of Texas in 2016, is a Junior Library Guild selection, and Kansas NEA Reading Circle gave it a starred review in their 2016 “Best of the Best” for High Schools. Ian Bryce, producer of Spiderman, Saving Private Ryan, and other notable films optioned the series for film.

REFUGE FOR MASTERMINDS, Book 3 in the Stranje House series, releases May 23rd.

#1 New York Times bestselling author Meg Cabot calls this romantic Regency adventure, "completely original and totally engrossing."
Find Kathleen online: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads




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Monday, May 22, 2017

Review: Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves

Release date: March 28, 2017
Author info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Pages: 416
Format: Egalley
Source: Publisher provided through Edelweiss
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
The thrilling first book in a YA fantasy trilogy for fans of Red Queen. In a world where social prestige derives from a trifecta of blood, money, and magic, one girl has the ability to break the spell that holds the social order in place.

Sixteen-year-old Anna Arden is barred from society by a defect of blood. Though her family is part of the Luminate, powerful users of magic, she is Barren, unable to perform the simplest spells. Anna would do anything to belong. But her fate takes another course when, after inadvertently breaking her sister’s debutante spell—an important chance for a highborn young woman to show her prowess with magic—Anna finds herself exiled to her family’s once powerful but now crumbling native Hungary.

Her life might well be over.

In Hungary, Anna discovers that nothing is quite as it seems. Not the people around her, from her aloof cousin Noémi to the fierce and handsome Romani Gábor. Not the society she’s known all her life, for discontent with the Luminate is sweeping the land. And not her lack of magic. Isolated from the only world she cares about, Anna still can’t seem to stop herself from breaking spells.

As rebellion spreads across the region, Anna’s unique ability becomes the catalyst everyone is seeking. In the company of nobles, revolutionaries, and Romanies, Anna must choose: deny her unique power and cling to the life she’s always wanted, or embrace her ability and change that world forever.
I'm kind of two minds about Blood Rose Rebellion. In some ways, I really enjoyed the world Eves created, where the aristocracy partially maintains their power because of their magical abilities, and liked seeing Anna come to understand the world around her. At the same time, though, I was frustrated with Anna a lot of the time, I've seen reviews that mention inaccuracies--though that's obviously not something I can speak on personally--and there were things that just didn't feel right.

First, the good. The setting is just the kind of thing I love! Not only do we start in London, but Anna visits Hungary with her grandmother, a country we don't see a lot of in YA, and it makes for a different feel, and a culture that's enjoyable to learn more about. There's also a lot that's interesting about the magic of the world, with a lot of questions to be answered later on after the events of this book. I'll be curious to see the repercussions to come in the next book. I like when folklore and fairy tales come into play in a world with magic, so all the creatures from the Binding were one of my favorite parts.

On the other hand, Anna is more than a little bit frustrating. I found her to be naive and too changeable. She didn't commit to her decisions, and she's very self-centered, unable to see how her actions will affect others until she's faced with the consequences. And while I liked the eventual romance, it weirds me out that Anna kissed at least three guys in this book. Two seems sufficient, doesn't it?

Even so, enough interesting background was set up that I'm curious for what's to come. I have hope that Anna can grow from what she's experienced, and, hey, maybe she'll only kiss one guy! So, perhaps while I can't recommend it without reservation, Blood Rose Rebellion is an interesting read and a series I will continue.

About the author:

Rosalyn Eves grew up in the Rocky Mountains, dividing her time between reading books and bossing her siblings into performing her dramatic scripts. As an adult, the telling and reading of stories is still one of her favorite things to do. When she's not reading or writing, she enjoys spending time with her chemistry professor husband and three children, watching British period pieces, or hiking through the splendid landscape of southern Utah, where she lives. She dislikes housework on principle. Her first book, BLOOD ROSE REBELLION, comes out Spring 2017 from Knopf.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Review: The Forgetting by Sharon Cameron

Release date: September 13, 2016
Author info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Pages: 403
Format: ARC
Source: Traded
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
What isn't written, isn't remembered. Even your crimes.

Nadia lives in the city of Canaan, where life is safe and structured, hemmed in by white stone walls and no memory of what came before. But every twelve years the city descends into the bloody chaos of the Forgetting, a day of no remorse, when each person's memories – of parents, children, love, life, and self – are lost. Unless they have been written.

In Canaan, your book is your truth and your identity, and Nadia knows exactly who hasn't written the truth. Because Nadia is the only person in Canaan who has never forgotten.

But when Nadia begins to use her memories to solve the mysteries of Canaan, she discovers truths about herself and Gray, the handsome glassblower, that will change her world forever. As the anarchy of the Forgetting approaches, Nadia and Gray must stop an unseen enemy that threatens both their city and their own existence – before the people can forget the truth. And before Gray can forget her.
It's no secret that I looooooooove Sharon Cameron's books. I'm still obsessed with Rook, and it's been...awhile...since I read it. So, when friends told me The Forgetting was her best book so far, I was excited, and a little scared. Honestly, I don't know how something could compare to Rook for me, so The Forgetting isn't her best book in my mind--however, it is excellent.

In Nadia's world, what isn't written down didn't happen. The Forgetting happens every twelve years, so people rely on their books to tell them about their pasts. But Nadia remembers. She's only experienced one Forgetting, but she knows what happened before, and the knowing is a danger to her and her family. She wants to know why they forget and why they have walls, just what they are hiding from.

Finding out these whys and whats alongside Nadia is a treat. Being in her head is fascinating, because Nadia is racing against the clock, fighting for the people she loves. She knows her world could emerge completely different after the Forgetting, and she's unwilling to let that happen. And the answers we get? COOL. It's not something you expect, and even once we know, there's more! You'll be guessing all the way through.

And it's not a Sharon Cameron book if I didn't love the romance! Gray is a bit of a mystery at first, but as he and Nadia get to know one another, their romance is a pleasure to read.

Don't take my saying The Forgetting is not my new favorite Sharon Cameron book as a negative! (I'm really thinking it's more genre-related than anything. I can't resist a retelling of a classic, especially one set in a world than feels like it's from the past but it's really the future!) That doesn't discount that The Forgetting is a truly excellent science fiction novel that'll keep you guessing till the end.


About the author:

Sharon Cameron was awarded the 2009 Sue Alexander Most Promising New Work Award by the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators for her debut novel, The Dark Unwinding. When not writing Sharon can be found thumbing dusty tomes, shooting her longbow, or indulging in her lifelong search for secret passages. She lives with her family in Nashville, Tennessee.