Monday, 30 October 2017

Pumpkin Spice Secrets

Pumpkin Spice Secrets 


By: Hillary Homzie 
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Published: September 12th, 2017
Source: Thomas Allen & Son (thank you!)
My Rating: 3.5/5


"Swirl books are the perfect flavor: A sweet blend of friends, crushes, and fun. Curl up and take a sip! 

Synopsis

Just as Maddie picks up her favorite pumpkin spice drink from the coffee shop counter, she spills it all over the cute guy standing behind her! Luckily, her embarrassment evaporates into a crush when she starts chatting with him -- his name is Jacob, and he's just starting in her grade at her middle school. 

But before Maddie can tell her best friend Jana about him at lunch the next day, Jana announces her huge new crush -- on the same guy! Maddie doesn’t want to cause trouble, so she keeps her feelings hidden. Jana will get over her crush soon, right? 

Add major school stress to Maddie's secret, and it's a recipe for disaster. Can she keep her cool and work things out with both Jacob and Jana before it all turns into a total mess?"

My Thoughts

I was asked to review this book by the Canadian distributor, this in no way influenced my review

The audience of this book is definitely younger then I am but I tried to take a more balanced approached when I was reviewing. I did really enjoy it but I think the story would have a lot more impact for the target age (middle school).

First off the title and cover of this book are so cute! I could definitely see kids picking this book up just because of that which is always a great thing- kids have to pick up the books in order to read them! The other great thing is that this is a series of books (A Swirl Novel), which are all themed after hot drinks!

Even though this books seems like it would just be super cute and fluffy, it deals with some pretty important things for middle grade students but it doesn't come off as too patronizing. I love how Maddie was so concerned about her friends, and at times was a little over dramatic. That's so realistic and I feel like a lot of my students can relate to being in similar situations- a first big crush, trouble with friends and trying to balance all of that with school and home life. I also found her anxiety around debate was something that a lot of people can relate too!

The other characters were also very well written: Jacob was a sweetheart and a little bit confused about what was going on most of the time, Jana was a lionhearted and made things happen! Each of them had their own strengths and weaknesses (sometimes the same thing was both) and they had to figure out how to work with who they were. 

I LOVED that the sort of message behind this book wasn't about trying to change who you are to fit it. Middle school is such a tough time and lots of things tell people that who they are isn't enough. This book celebrates the uniqueness of each character and shows how when they are themselves, they can truly shine. The teacher in me loves this message and wants all my students to understand it- what better way to teach then to read a book!

I would definitely recommend this book to teachers who want to add to their classroom library, parents looking to get their kids into reading and to kids who want a realistic but fun book about being in middle school, having crushes, and friendships!




I recreated the cover of this book and then realized my hands were upside down compared to the actual cover!










Below I have two special extras to share thanks to the wonderful people at Thomas Allen & Son. The first is MY favourite drink recipe:





And the second is an sneak peek at Book 2 in the series- Peppermint Cocoa Crushes- Enjoy!


Thursday, 21 September 2017

Blog Tour: Before She Ignites

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Before She Ignites (Fallen Isles Trilogy #1)

  496 pages 
  Publication: September 12th, 2017 
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books 

Synopsis: Before Mira Minkoba is the Hopebearer. Since the day she was born, she’s been told she’s special. Important. Perfect. She’s known across the Fallen Isles not just for her beauty, but for the Mira Treaty named after her, a peace agreement which united the seven islands against their enemies on the mainland. But Mira has never felt as perfect as everyone says. She counts compulsively. She struggles with crippling anxiety. And she’s far too interested in dragons for a girl of her station. After Then Mira discovers an explosive secret that challenges everything she and the Treaty stand for. Betrayed by the very people she spent her life serving, Mira is sentenced to the Pit–the deadliest prison in the Fallen Isles. There, a cruel guard would do anything to discover the secret she would die to protect. No longer beholden to those who betrayed her, Mira must learn to survive on her own and unearth the dark truths about the Fallen Isles–and herself–before her very world begins to collapse.

US Amazon - UK Amazon - Barnes & Noble - Book Depository

The Beginning

Going into this book I knew three things: there were dragons, the main character was black, and the main character had anxiety. All three of these things made me say YES! I NEED TO READ THIS!. How often is it that you find a book with dragons AND anxiety? (I don't know if I ever have!) Plus Jodi is a favourite author of mine so I was very excited!

The Middle

Characters
Mira was definitely a unique character. As I mentioned above, I've never read a fantasy book where a character very openly has anxiety- she even takes medicine for it! At times she could be so frustrating, she had such low self-esteem and put such an emphasis on her appearance. Obviously when she was in prison she wasn't looking too great and so sometimes that was her biggest focus. Considering she was IN PRISON and being treated horribly I felt like she had bigger things to worry about. Then again, she is a young girl and for her entire life as a figurehead her parents have told her she needs to be beautiful. Years of being told such a message must have made it hard for her to shake!
I liked that the characters around Mira were just as well-developed as she was. Sweet, quiet but intensely grounded Aaru; tough, athletic Gerel who has a soft spot for the girl beside her. I just love them all. The thing that impressed me most was that this book did not have a toxic romance! It seems like there have been many books lately where prisoners have fallen in love with their guards who *aren't that bad* (yuck). Luckily that did not happen here!

Plot
The start of this book had that perfect amount of push and pull where the reader was given information but enough was withheld that you needed to keep reading.  As the book went on though I found the plot was a bit slow. There isn't anything wrong with slow plots but I think there is some expectation that fantasy is fast paced so I just had to readjust my thinking. That being said, I found that the other aspects of the novel, like the world-building and characters were engaging enough to push me to keep reading.

Worldbuilding
I LOVED how Jodi created a world where a nation didn't have a singular culture/language. A lot of times in fantasy we end up with vast lands where everyone is the same but not so with Before She Ignites and the Fallen Isles. I enjoyed getting a taste of the nations mythology and religions and a bit of general history (I'm a nerd for world-building!). In a way the Fallen Isles remind me of Japan in a sense- just because of the nation of isles and the differences between the islands etc. This wasn't intentionally done by Jodi but it's still neat that she created a history that is actually realistic (in a sense)

The End

Overall, despite some slow spots I would give this book 5/5 starts. It's such a fun, compelling but also important story. I can't wait to share its beautiful cover with some kids who will see themselves reflected!

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 
To our wonderful readers, Thank you for stopping by the blog for Before She Ignites by Jodi Meadows Tour! As a thank you and appreciating we have a GIVEAWAY for you in ALL TOUR STOPS!
Miss Jodi Meadows was very kind and generous and donated 2 Finished copies of 🔥 Before She Ignites🐲 for 2 lucky winners!!! Giveaway is at the end of this blog post.
For more chances to win this amazing GIVEAWAY please don't miss the all the stops. Which will be full of interviews, creative posts, reviews and an excerpt!
But first, we would like to introduce to you the outstanding book trailer for Before She Ignites by Jodi Meadows

Book Trailer

 
Thank you, Sarah, from the book blog The YA Book Traveler for designing the beautiful images and for creating the amazing book trailer which we can't stop watching! We can't appreciate you enough.

Giveaway

Tour Stops

Monday 9/4 -TheLifeofABookNerdAddict - Guest Post
Monday 9/4 - TalesofTheRavenousreader- Creative Post
Tuesday 9/5 - BooksAndPrejudice - Review
Wednesday 9/6 - EaterofBooks - Interview
Thursday 9/7 - ForTheSakeofReading - Review
Friday 9/8 - ABackwardsStory- Guest Post
Monday 9/11 -MaryHadALittleBookBlog -Guest Post
Monday 9/11 - thatartsyreadergirl.com -Review
Tuesday 9/12 - TheYABookTraveler -Review
Wednesday 9/13 - AThousandWordsAMillionBooks - Interview
Thursday 9/14 - BookCrush- Creative Post
Friday 9/15 - TheReaderAndTheChef- Review
Monday 9/18 - YAandWine - Review
Tuesday 9/19 - TakeMeAwayToAGreatRead - Creative Post
Wednesday 9/20 - AphonicSarah - Interview
Thursday 9/21 - TheKindredReader - Review
Friday 9/22 - ReadWriteLove28 - Excerpt
Friday 9/22 - LoveIsNotATriangle - Guest Post

About the Author:

Jodi Meadows wants to be a ferret when she grows up and she has no self-control when it comes to yarn, ink, or outer space. Still, she manages to write books. She is the author of the INCARNATE Trilogy, the ORPHAN QUEEN Duology, and the FALLEN ISLES Trilogy (HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen), and a coauthor of MY LADY JANE (HarperTeen). Visit her at Website: www.jodimeadows.com Twitter - Goodreads - Website   

Sponsored by

Sunday, 10 September 2017

SST- Cinderella Necromancer

By: F.M Boughan
Published: Sept. 5th, 2017
Rating: 4/5


"Cinderella, Necromancer is Chime meets Anna Dressed in Blood and was inspired by a real medieval grimoire of necromancy from 15th-century Germany.

Ellison lost her mother at an early age. But since then, her father has found love again. He's happy and doesn't quite notice that Ellison does not get along with his new wife or her mean daughters. When Ellison discovers a necromantic tome while traveling the secret passages of her father's mansion, she wonders if it could be the key to her freedom. Until then, she must master her dark new power, even as her stepmother makes her a servant in her own home. And when her younger brother falls incurably ill, Ellison will do anything to ease his pain, including falling prey to her stepmother and stepsisters' every whim and fancy.

Stumbling into a chance meeting of Prince William during a secret visit to her mother's grave feels like a trick of fate when her stepmother refuses to allow Ellison to attend a palace festival. But what if Ellison could see the kind and handsome prince once more? What if she could attend the festival? What if she could have everything she ever wanted and deserved by conjuring spirits to take revenge on her cruel stepmother?

As Ellison's power grows, she loses control over the evil spirits meant to do her bidding. And as they begin to exert their own power over Ellison, she will have to decide whether it is she or her stepmother who is the true monster. "

The Premise

I was super interested in the premise of this book because I'm a sucker for fairy tale retellings! I'm not a fan of the original Disney Cinderella movie but there have been some really great adaptations of Cinderella! The thing that drew me in the most was that this retelling seemed like it was throwing it back to the dark, grim, original fairy tale stories. And oh boy was that true.

The Plot

Retellings can be a tricky thing because you have to balance the original source material that people know and figure out how to make it interesting and new for your readers. Boughan did a masterful job of weaving old familiar plot with new and exciting twists. There was a beautiful balance between the Cinderella story that people already know and love, but there was also new plots that fit in so well. 

There were many times throughout the book where I was sure I'd figured something out and I just HAD to keep reading. Or I'd have two theories and was just dying to see which one was true. It definitely had a nice, fairly fast pace where just as a the reader was feeling comfortable BAM a new twist was introduced.

The way that necromancy and magic was introduced to the story was also very intense and engaging. Sometimes I wanted to scream out to Ella and give her some advice. I've read a lot of books with magic but the way that the necromancy was developed was unique to anything else I've read. In particular I thought the religious tones were very cool and also historically accurate.

The Characters

I don't know if I've ever heard the prince in Cinderella as having an actual name before but it sort of helped me to ground where the story was taking place. Plus who doesn't love a prince named William?!

The main character Ellison (Ella) was a very interesting character. At times I was frustrated with her and her choices but other times she was strong and bold. She also was a well-rounded young character who didn't always have to be perfect and didn't always know everything. And I think that makes the best kind of main character.

Ella's stepmother and stepsisters were scary to me- maybe I'm just a wuss but man I would not want to run into them anytime soon! And I liked how they were the evil stepmother and stepsisters but Boughan gave that a new twist 

I think this is one of my favourite written Cinderella stories and I loved the characters so much that I really hope we get to see more of them!




You can check out the other Sunday Street Team posts for today here:
Omg Books and More Books
A Thousand Words a Million Books

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Wonder Wednesday- Rebirth

Welcome to my newest feature- Wonder (Woman) Wednesday! In this feature I will be sharing/reviewing a variety of different Wonder Woman comics. This feature is going to be aimed at new fans or fans who are interested in reading more about Diana Prince. Up first we have Rebirth series lead by writer Greg Rucka 

Wonder Woman DC Universe Rebirth
Volume 1- The Lies, Volume 2- Year One


These anathologies are among the newest Wonder Woman comics out there but that doesn't mean that they are lacking any of the charm of the original Diana Prince that the world fell in love with. 

Comic Details

In Vol. 1 Diana struggles to remember who she is, what she has done and why she is in the world. That doesn't keep her from fighting hard to save innocents though! This volume is pretty neat because there are many well-developed women who are good, bad and a little bit of both. 

In Vol. 2 We jump back in time and get to see the very first events that occurred to lead up to the events of Vol. 1. It doesn't give us the entire picture but its just enough to hook you in until you NEED to know more! 

Both volumes are quick reads (I read each one in an evening). They have beautiful colour panels and the facial expressions on the characters are so amazing and intricate! As well, there are covers and alternate covers from each comic included in the volume.

Why Read It?

These comics are a great place to start if you are looking to read more about Diana because they've got a great mix of connections to the movie plot, as well as newly introduced plots. We get to see the Steve Trevor and Diana Prince that we love, as well as many new characters. This comic does a pretty good job in terms of diversity with multiple characters of colour, and LGBTQ characters.