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The Duchess’s Descendants: I am Head Over BEAK for Jordinia!

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The Duchess's Descendants (Jordinia #3)The Duchess’s Descendants
(Jordinia:  Book 3)
by C.K. Brooke

Fantasy / Romance / Historical
285 Pages
48fourteen Publishing
Publication Date:  June 19th, 2017
Get a copy here!

BLURB:

The next generation. A new adventure…

Over three decades have passed since the Ducelle Empire reclaimed the land, and Jordinia has never prospered more. When the Emperor negotiates a treaty among neighboring nations, Jordinia is awarded an archipelago of islands in the north. With intentions to colonize, His Majesty enlists his two underachieving nephews on an expedition to chart the wilderness.

Reclusive Ludwig has his violin and no desire to travel, while his charismatic brother Drew is seduced by the grandeur of making history…and money. Desperate to flee a secret scandal of her own, their sister Johanna insists upon accompanying them. With a team of soldiers – including longtime friend and royal guardsman, Bram Visigoth – the Cosmith siblings set off to conquer their uncle’s newly-acquired territory.

From an icy shipwreck to precarious encounters with the native inhabitants, almost nothing goes as planned in this fast-paced comedy of errors teeming with humor, fantasy and plenty of romance. Prepare to fall in love with Jordinia all over again!

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See my reviews for the previous books in this series:

The Duchess Quest (Jordinia #1)  The Duchess Inheritance (Jordinia #2)

4.5Penguins
Quick Reasons: aaaaaaah, I adore this series!; a new cast of unique, complex, well-rounded characters to love; political intrigue and subtle morals; awesome, entertaining action; I love the way C.K. Brooke writes about love (scratch that. I love the way C.K. Brooke writes, period)

Huge thanks to C.K. Brooke and 48fourteen Publishing for sending me an early copy of this title in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

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C.K. Brooke has knocked it out of the park for me again with this return to Jordinia. I swear, each time I hear there’ll be a new book in this series, my penguin heart flutters a little bit harder–it sounds unhealthy, sure, but oh my goodness, I ADORE everything about this series, and can honestly admit this is my favorite fantasy series to date. Seriously, the world of Jordinia is ripe with adventure, political intrigue, and humongous personalities–and I love rediscovering every nook and cranny with each book!

 

I really enjoyed that we were given more glimpse into the family dynamics for this particular read. The focus on their relationships, their interactions and reactions, made this read pure gold for me. While they separated throughout and chapters were interspersed with alternating POVs, a large chunk of the story remained on the siblings and their “growth”–both together and apart–throughout this journey into the unknown.

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As always, C.K. Brooke has written a series of complex, realistic, and believable romances–and I adored every single one of them! I was a bit worried near the 90% mark that one of the couples I’d been rooting for from the start wasn’t destined to work out…but was, pleasantly, wrong. The ending is adorable, and while I feel this read might have been a smidge shorter than the other books in this series, it’s just as beautifully written and just as entertaining as the others.

I am head-over-beak in LOVE with Jordinia and every character we’ve been introduced to! The romances are realistic and butterfly-inducing, if not a little bit roMESSy at times. The plot is fast-paced and filled with delicious political intrigue/moral conflicts. All-in-all, I devour every book C.K. Brooke puts in front of me…and feel more readers should do the same! I’d recommend this series to lovers of fantasy, flawed but redeemable characters, and snark (because there’s a lot of that in C.K. Brooke’s novels). Set sail for Jordinia with me, penguins; it’s a wild ride, but I promise you’ll love every minute!

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Star-Crossed in Romeo and Juliet: This Verona is Full of Strife and… Pizza Sauce?!

bookreview

 

Fakespeare: Starcrossed in Romeo and JulietStar-Crossed in Romeo and Juliet
(Fakespeare, #1)
by M.E. Castle

280 Pages
Middle-grade / Children’s / Retellings
Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group /
Imprint Publishing
Publication Date: May 23rd, 2017
Get a copy here!

BLURB:

Three kids get lost inside Shakespeare’s book and must help Romeo and Juliet finish their story in order to return home in this silly middle school series!

Dear Reader, 

You are reading this because you expressed interest in the Get Lost Book Club. 

Are you ready to embark on a journey to Italy, where you’ll find yourself right in the middle of a major feud between two rival pizza-making families: the Montagues and the Capulets? A swordsman and perfumer will hunt you. There will be disguises, fake pizza, and tomato fights (make sure to duck!). You must help Becca, her stepbrother Sam, and her dog Rufus convince Romeo Montague to ask Juliet Capulet on a date, or you will all be stuck in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet forever! 

Intrigued? Worried? Downright terrified? You should be. But if you’re ready for an adventure, step right up and follow me. It’s time to get lost.

Sincerely,

The Narrator

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4.5Penguins
Quick Reasons: this was, throughout, laugh out loud hilarious; I LOVE the new “spins” that M.E. Castle put on this classic; the morals and lessons are whimsical, witty, and well-done; the nods to the original play were woven in to this story brilliantly

HUGE thanks to M.E. Castle and Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group/Imprint Publishing for sending me a gorgeous hardcover copy of this title in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

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Okay, Penguins. Here’s what’s going to happen next: I’m going to FREAK THE FRACK OUT about this hilarious, awesome book…and then you’re going to drop everything you’re doing for the next few hours and go read it! Trust me, the time is well worth it, and passes in a fit of rib-cracking laughter and manic cackling that’s bound to make your (insert family, roommate, lover, children, pet, wallpaper, violent pink flamingo, etc. here) wonder just what it is you’re up to. Which is GOOD, because that means more Penguins wanting to pick this book up, and that means my army will grow even bigger! Yes. This is such a great plan, I can’t believe I didn’t think of it sooner!

 

This book is, as I mentioned a time or two earlier, absolutely gut-bustingly hilarious! Within a page, I was giggling (very obnoxiously, might I add). From the very get go, this book sucked me into the story–almost as literally as the book in the book that eats the main characters, in fact! (Wow, that was a mouthful of a sentence! Let’s not do that again.) The action begins almost immediately upon landing in Verona, though we quickly learn that things are not QUITE like the original play led us to believe. This retelling was super inventive, with some genius spins on the “tragedy” that kept this read perfectly acceptable for young hearts and minds. I really appreciated the amount of humor M.E. Castle put into this, while still maintaining the bigger plot points from Shakespeare’s star-crossed tale of woe.

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The morals and lessons woven throughout the journey–about bullying, and family, and self-love/self-acceptance, and so many other delicious things!–were well-handled and portrayed in a light that made them both entertainingly humorous and super easy to understand. This is such a great book to lead mid-grade readers to, both for the morals AND for the introduction to Shakespeare. While the prose is much less complex (and much easier to understand!) than Shakespeare’s tragedy, the main story is still mostly there–just minus the actual TRAGEDY of the, uh, tragedy.

 

I had an absolute BLAST blasting my way through this retelling, and cannot wait to pick up the next book in this series (and YAY me, I already own it!) These characters are entertaining and set on a path of growth/acceptance; the prose is humorous and enlightening; and the new spins on an old tragedy both made this read unique and were laugh-out-loud hilarious. I definitely recommend this to lovers of middle-grade novels, those seeking a less intimidating introduction to The Bard, and readers who love humor and word play. Be careful when touching this book, Penguins; it just might eat you while your back is turned!

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Blog Tour, Giveaway, and Review: All that Glitters

All That Glitters banner
This is my stop during the book blitz for All That Glitters by Tracy Krimmer. This book blitz is organized by Lola’s Blog Tours. The book blitz runs from 19 till 25 June. See the tour schedule here.

All That GlittersAll That Glitters (All That #1)
By Tracy Krimmer
Genre: Contemporary Romance / Women’s Fiction
Age category: Adult
Release Date: summer 2017

Blurb:
Country-music star, Dory Walker, never wanted to come back to the small town of Sycamore Bay. But after her fairy-tale life is flipped upside down, and her marriage becomes a casualty, she has no choice.

Harris Malone is a man with few commitments. He keeps a low profile most days while he cares for his young daughter and helps run his dad’s hardware store.

But when he and Dory run into each other at the local gas station, all either can think about is the searing kiss they shared many years ago.

Can a woman who only wants to rekindle her career and a man who enjoys a no-strings attached lifestyle find everlasting love?

You can find All That Glitters on Goodreads

You can buy All That Glitters here.

Tracy KrimmerAbout the Author:
Tracy’s love of writing began at nine years old. She wrote stories about aliens at school, machines that did homework for you, and penguins. Now she pens books and short stories about romance. She loves to read a great book, whether it be romance or science fiction, or any genre in between, or pop popcorn and catch up on her favorite TV shows or movies. She’s been known to crush a candy or two as well. Her loves include fitness, reading, coffee, dogs, and naps (not in that order), and her dislikes are blue cheese, cold weather, and burpees.

You can find and contact Tracy here:
Website
Twitter
Facebook
Goodreads
Amazon
Bookbub
Instagram
Newsletter

Giveaway
There is a tour wide giveaway for the book blitz of All That Glitters. One winner will win a $10 Amazon gift card!

For a chance to win, enter the rafflecopter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway


bookreview

3.5Penguins
Quick Reasons: this read a LOT like a YA; I was super annoyed with Dory throughout most of this read; in fact, I wasn’t impressed with a lot of the characters; Harris’ relationship with his daughter is adorable; I’m glad the “ex boyfriend returns” trope wasn’t found here

Huge thanks to Tracy Krimmer and Lola’s Blog Tours for sending me a free digital galley of this title in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

I’ll be honest, Penguins–this book fell very flat for me in a few different instances. The biggest one? I felt that, on the whole, these characters were much more immature than I was expecting them to be. Several times, I had to force myself to STOP thinking of them as teens and remember them for what age they really are–mid to late 20’s. I’m not entirely sure where the disconnect happened for me; I feel as if the attitudes, especially those in times of drama or stress, were less “put together” and more “chaos roaming” than I expected. Dory, especially, seemed much more like she was still in high school. Perhaps there was a reason for this, in the end–perhaps Dory was meant to complete some life-changing character ARC/growth journey that I, as a reader, didn’t catch onto or witness. This disconnect, however, held me back a little–I wasn’t entirely able to connect with or feel for these characters, especially Dory.

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The plot was entertaining and well-paced, however! I also feel as if the relationships outside Dory’s POV (those between Harris and his daughter, for instance; or Harris and his ex-wife; or Harris and his dad) were all gorgeously written and so well done. I was SO happy to see a divorced couple that actually strove to remain friends after splitting; for a romance novel (or our world, to be honest) this was a refreshing and surprising outcome, and I love that it’s how Tracy Krimmer handled that particular relationship. I wish we’d seen such growth and closure from Dory’s relationships; even at the end of this book, I felt she was a bit too stiff and awkward with the people who were supposed to be her family. Still, I had fun following Dory on her journey to finding where she belonged.

This was, overall, a cutesy contemporary that read just a BIT too much like YA for me. I was often confused or embarrassed by Dory’s immature outbursts, and felt she wasn’t given enough chance to grow and shape herself on this journey. I adored the relationships centered around Harris, however, and found him to be a complex and entertaining character to get to know. I’d recommend this to lovers of angsty romances, intriguing sub-plots, and well-rounded relationships. Kick up your heels, Penguins; glitter doesn’t always have to be gold.

 

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Blog Tour, Giveaway, and Review: Scandal

Scandal banner
This is my stop during the blog tour for Scandal by Athena Grayson. This blog tour is organized by Lola’s Blog Tours. The blog tour runs from 12 till 25 June. See the tour schedule here.

ScandalScandal (Scions of the Star Empire #1)
By Athena Grayson
Genre: Sci-fi dystopian with romantic elements
Age category: New Adult/ Adult
Release Date: 23 March 2017

Blurb:
They can have anything they want…except a future.

Nothing infuriates Princess Ione Ra more than having someone else take control of her reputation from her, and her old nemesis–gossip journalist Jaris Pulne–is poised to do just that with pilfered pics of her caught in a compromising position with her power-couple partner. As someone who’s no stranger to manipulating the markets on her own social life, Ione knows the wrong scandal means social suicide.

For the other half of the power couple, Den Hades, his survival has depended on staying in his powerful father’s shadow in order to protect his secrets. But on the very night of his one chance to earn a shot at becoming a Scion–and freedom from his father’s ambitions, scandal threatens to tear him from Ione, or worse–force them together before their time.

Damage control turns into danger when their attempts to retrieve the images lead them both into the dark underbelly of the glittering city-planet, exposing secrets of both friends and foes that could lead to more than just social suicide.

You can find Scandal on Goodreads

You can buy Scandal here:
Amazon
B&N
Kobo
iTunes
Google Play
Smashwords
Books2Read

You can also find all the buy links for this book here on the author’s website.

About the Author:
Athena Grayson likes kickass heroines, big-brained and sexy beta heroes who aren’t afraid of strong women or their own feelings, and stories that turn the genre tropes sideways. If you’re looking for something a little unexpected, a little more, and a lot of fun…this is your kinda place.

You can find and contact Athena here:
Website
Facebook
Twitter
Amazon
Goodreads
Bookbub

Giveaway
There is a tour wide giveaway for the blog tour of Scandal. These are the prizes you can win:
– 2 paperback copies of Scandal by Athena Grayson (US Only)
– 2 $10 Amazon Gift Cards (International)

For a chance to win, enter the rafflecopter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway


bookreview

 

3.75Penguins
Quick Reasons: I feel I was thrust into the middle of a story I never got; vibrantly detailed, gorgeous descriptors and characters; the complexities of the political intrigue were interesting and enthralling; these are murky, murky waters, penguins; a promising start to a new series!

Huge thanks to Athena Grayson and Lola’s Blog Tours for sending a free egalley of this title my way in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

 

 

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Alright, Penguins–let’s talk about some things. This book and I? Didn’t QUITE agree about a few things–mostly in terms of story. See, I feel as if I was thrown into the middle of a story that I never really was given, if that makes sense? I was very, very confused–from basically the get go–about what was happening and the reasons why. While answers are found and given throughout, I felt as if there was a bit of disconnect between story line and world-building. In other words…I felt like I was expected to know more about this world/the characters going into this, book one, than I ended up ACTUALLY knowing. And this bothered me a bit, because I was bound and determined to adore this book, and instead found myself struggling to put the pieces together.

 

The descriptors and prose, though! There is so much to take in throughout the course of this read. Athena Grayson went to very long lengths to ensure readers were completely immersed, head to foot, in this journey. While I struggled to connect the dots of the story line, I was almost immediately entrenched in the gorgeous world being painted around me. Every page was filled with sights, sounds, smells–the five senses all came into play and helped to more fully encapsulate me in Athena Grayson’s imagination. This read THRUMMED with the senses, and made it so much easier for me to visualize and feel a part of each page, so kudos to Athena Grayson for such awesome world-building!

 

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So, while I was a bit confused throughout–and felt I was thrust into the middle of a story I had no beginning for–I REALLY adored the world-building and vivid descriptors. I was ensnared almost immediately, lusting for more of Athena Grayson’s gorgeously detailed word-paintings. I just wish the fit had been a BIT more snug in terms of story line. I would recommend this to lovers of sci fi/fantasy, uniquely vivid worlds, and curiously enthralling political intrigues. Put your seat belts on, Penguins; we’re about to go off-world!


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Kiss Me After–Cue the Butterflies, SO MANY Butterflies

bookreview

Kiss Me After Kiss Me After
(Kiss A Belle #1)
by Cecilia Gray

Historical / Romance / YA
127 Pages
Gray Life, LLC
Publication Date:  March 1st, 2016
Get a copy here!

BLURB:

A brand new series from the author of The Gentlemen Next Door, praised for being a “delightful Regency romp… in the spirit of Georgette Heyer.”

Meet Alice Belle—the Bossy Belle—used to getting her way. If anyone has to fall on the matrimonial sword it will be she and not her sisters. She has set her sights on the richest, most titled gentlemen in her acquaintance. The perfect man to make her father happy, leaving her beloved sisters free to marry whom they choose.

Meet Robert Crawford—ringleader—used to masterminding his way. If anyone is going to marry Alice Belle, it is he. Never mind that he’s poor, without a title, and completely unsuitable for Alice in the eyes of her father. He loves her. Which makes him the perfect man to make her happy, whether she realizes it or not.

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4Penguins
Quick Reasons: cue the butterflies, SO many butterflies!; LOVELOVELOVE the humor and entertainment factor woven into the narrative voice; these are interesting, headstrong, vibrantly written characters; I didn’t really “see” the setting/surroundings

 

Huge thanks to Cecilia Gray; Gray Life, LLC; and Xpresso Book Toursfor sending me a free digital galley of this title in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

 

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This was such a TREAT of a read, Penguins! I know I say, after every historical romance read, that I really OUGHT to read more of the genre but…that would mean missing out on the wonders and excitement of picking up such books, I think. So while I read them rarely…I am better able to appreciate and enjoy the journey? Does that make any sense?! Regardless, this was just such an awesome read!

 

I did, unfortunately, find it a little difficult to put myself into the settings of this novel. While we get several descriptions of the characters, and I could pretty vividly “see” them, I didn’t feel as much attention to detail was given to their surroundings or the goings-on around them. Of course, this in no way detracted from the read! While I missed out, a little, on being able to “see” the settings, I was so thoroughly entertained by the characters–and by rooting for the love to unfold!–that it was a passing, occasional thought.

 

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There were also moments of humor I wasn’t expecting headed into this read. The beginning “warning” was enough, when I read it, to set me tittering and giggling–the outside narrative voice was able to both draw me into the subject matter AND give a taste of the historical setting before I turned to the first page and saw the time period. This small nod to humor was played throughout, in both the narratives (in this instance, a dual POV between the two main characters) and the character interactions/reactions. Robert and Alice were swept up in a journey of propriety and familial obligations, and I found myself torn right along with them in the headiest moments of drama and passion.

 

This was an authentically written, gorgeously rendered glimpse into the past. The characters were complex, vibrant, and SO super endearing. While I wasn’t necessarily able to visualize the settings, I appreciated the narrative humor and butterfly-inducing roMESS that happens between these pages! I definitely recommend this read to lovers of historical romances, intriguing familial obligations, and characters with entertaining growth journeys. Prepare yourselves for a wild ride, Penguins; with stolen kisses, anything can happen!

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Blog Tour, Giveaway, and Reviews: Phoebe Pope

 

The Year of Four
Nya Jade
(Phoebe Pope, #1)
Publication date: October 28th 2012
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult

The students of Green Lane Academy roam their halls unaware that below their manicured campus exists a prestigious school of an entirely different kind . . .

Sixteen-year-old Phoebe Pope has enrolled at the Campus Below: a spy academy for shape-shifters hidden deep beneath the grounds of a boarding school whose humans unknowingly protect it. There, thanks to a carefully planned schedule, she leads a double life: spy trainee Below and normal teenager Above.

As if two course loads, concealing a secret power she alone wields, and coping with her father’s recent death weren’t enough, Phoebe finds herself developing major feelings for actor and teen heartthrob Colten Chase, who attends the Campus Above and appears to be majoring in winning Phoebe’s heart. But when officials learn that Phoebe may be at the center of a startling prophecy, she becomes the target of shape-shifting assassins who will stop at nothing to suppress the truth.

Now Phoebe’s lessons about Shaper’s enemies and spycraft take on great importance as a menace stalks the campus, with Phoebe as its target. Meanwhile, what began as an unlikely relationship with Colten, quickly morphs into heartache when she suspects that something sinister lurks beneath this movie star’s glitter and fame. Suddenly, Phoebe’s caught in a mesh of lies, betrayals, and danger where she doesn’t know who to trust, and needs to rely on herself—and her secret power—to get to the truth and to stay alive.

The Blood of Kings
Nya Jade
(Phoebe Pope, #2)
Publication date: April 2017
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult

According to the press, Phoebe Pope and teen movie star Colten Chase are no longer an item—which is just how the happy new couple like it. And yet there’s trouble in paradise . . .

Phoebe is haunted by dreams that show her things she can’t possibly know about—including a pact between Colten and a wanted assassin. In the daylight, she struggles to keep a newly emerging power hidden, even as her hands itch to wield it.

Meanwhile, in the wake of their escape from a Vigo crèche, Phoebe and her fellow Hyphas study under lock and key at the Campus Below. As the foursome wait to see who among them will fulfill the prophecy, someone dear to Phoebe is kidnapped by a powerful Vigo determined to use her to spy on the Shaper royalty. When the Hyphas are called to the Royal Court, Phoebe refuses to heed warnings of imminent danger for she will do whatever it takes to rescue her loved one.

But once at court, nothing is as it first appears. A sinister force controls some royals, while others whisper behind closed doors about forbidden alliances. And as Phoebe draws on her courage to complete the task set by her enemy, she makes a startling discovery—one that upends her father’s memory.

With dangerous conspiracies surfacing, Phoebe must uncover what the Royal Shapers really want from her, and decide whether there’s room for Colten in her unraveling life.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble

 

Author Bio:

Nya Jade has enjoyed a fun career as a singer-songwriter. Her music videos have aired on the Vh1, BET and MTV networks and she’s opened for some of the biggest names in music. Nya’s music has also received recognition in major publications, including USA Today and the LA Times. She took a break from writing and performing music to write The Year of Four, her first YA novel. When she isn’t writing, Nya can be found hanging out with family and friends, reading or bargain hunting for her next pair of funky shoes. Nya lives with her family in California.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

 

GIVEAWAY!
a Rafflecopter giveaway


bookreview

 

 

 

4.25Penguins
Quick Reasons: stellar, fast-paced action; one easy plot twist and one HUGE surprise; believable, slow-building, totally awkward romance; LOVELOVELOVE the paranormal/fantasy aspects; shape shifting for the total win!; awesome, entertaining read

Huge thanks to Nya Jade, Dreamwell Publishing, and Xpresso Book Tours for sending me a free digital galley of this title in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

 

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So, uh…. is my beak on straight, penguins?! Because I feel like it’s backward and upside down and maybe just a whole lot out of place after this wild, awesome read! The action is fast-paced and super intense; I was biting my nails and holding my breath through the majority of this read. Nya Jade breathed life into this world, and immersed me fully into it. For the hours I spent reading, I left reality and stood right beside these characters–basically experiencing the same things they did. It. Was. AWESOME, okay?! Pure reader ecstasy, promise.

 

These characters are well-rounded and complex, handling a bunch of different stuff that both individualizes them and brings them together. I had a ton of fun following each of them on their journeys–and was so caught up in the one plot twist I saw coming, I didn’t think there’d be a second, BIGGER one to come! So kudos to Nya Jade for catching me by surprise on that one; I definitely love when those unexpected roller coaster moments happen.

 

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I was a teensy bit disappointed to see the old “monster turned good” trope being played out in one of my favorite characters. I totally blameTwilight for this–that whole “survives on blood but doesn’t kill because special snowflake not a monster” trope. I wish that hadn’t been used in this read–it would have made things even MORE entertaining, and much less predictable, for me as a reader. I mean tell me, penguins–isn’t there a way that characters can remain monstrous while not being MONSTERS, per se?! Or is that asking for too much? Either way, it bothered me.

 

Still, this read was super entertaining! The action was fast-paced and intense, the characters are SO much fun to watch, and there was a wild roller coaster moment of a plot twist that caught even ME off guard. I definitely recommend this to lovers of paranormal/fantasy, shape shifters, and fantastic characters! The moonester has begun, Penguins; what are YOU studying?!


 

 

 

4.5Penguins
Quick Reasons: Nya Jade knows how to write a plot twist so it’s both seen, and unexpected; not nearly enough Colten in this book!; I want, I need, I must have more!; I love the way these relationships were both altered and strengthened; I’m not sure anymore who’s friend and who’s foe

HUGE thanks, again, to Nya Jade, Dreamwell Publishing, and Xpresso Book Tours for sending a free digital galley of this title my way in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

 

AND OH, MY, PENGUINS! What a book it is! Just as with the first book in this series, I was pulled straight into the action. From page one, I was enthralled–the action remains fast-paced and intense, and the mysteries/dramas surrounding our main characters and their emerging powers was only exacerbated by the political intrigue they find themselves thrust into. There are secrets layered upon secrets, there’s a TON of magic and conspiracy, and I just… gaaaaah, this series! While, like in the first book, I had my suspicions about a certain plot twist…I’m happy to say that Nya Jade paired it, once again, with a twist I HADN’T been expecting. This beautiful mastery of her world only makes me feel more awed by her talents.

 

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Once again, these characters took me along for the ride. Their journeys are both individualized and, at the same time, woven together. I really love the dynamics of the relationships we’re given a glimpse into here–while each is obviously struggling with their own secrets and dramas, they still manage to, at the most important moments, band together. Their growths–both as unique personalities and as a group–held me enthralled and taught me some things about human nature/myself along the way. I really adore the ways Nya Jade penned these relationships; it is obvious that they are awkward, and uncomfortable, and yet somehow still connected by the events happening around them. I really LOVE that their relationships, even in the most strained moments, never once came off as superficial or contrived.

 

This second book was just as entertaining, though a bit darker in tone overall, than the first–and I cannot wait to lay my hands on the third installment. I must know what happens next, Penguins! I MUST! I definitely recommend this series to lovers of paranormal/fantasy, magical political intrigue, and shape shifters. The plot is fast-paced and intense, the twists are both easy to see and super surprising, and the characters leap off their pages to dance before readers’ eyes. The conversion is approaching, Penguins; what shape will your second heart take?

 

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Blog Tour, Giveaway, and Review: Girl on the Verge

 

Girl on the Verge
by Pintip Dunn
Published by: Kensington
Publication date: June 27th 2017
Genres: Thriller, Young Adult

From the author of The Darkest Lie comes a compelling, provocative story for fans of I Was Here and Vanishing Girls, about a high school senior straddling two worlds, unsure how she fits in either—and the journey of self-discovery that leads her to surprising truths.

In her small Kansas town, at her predominantly white school, Kanchana doesn’t look like anyone else. But at home, her Thai grandmother chides her for being too westernized. Only through the clothing Kan designs in secret can she find a way to fuse both cultures into something distinctly her own.

When her mother agrees to provide a home for a teenage girl named Shelly, Kan sees a chance to prove herself useful. Making Shelly feel comfortable is easy at first—her new friend is eager to please, embraces the family’s Thai traditions, and clearly looks up to Kan. Perhaps too much. Shelly seems to want everything Kanchana has, even the blond, blue-eyed boy she has a crush on. As Kan’s growing discomfort compels her to investigate Shelly’s past, she’s shocked to find how much it intersects with her own—and just how far Shelly will go to belong…

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / iBooks

 

Author Bio:

Pintip Dunn is a New York Times bestselling author of YA fiction. She graduated from Harvard University, magna cum laude, with an A.B. in English Literature and Language. She received her J.D. at Yale Law School, where she was an editor of the YALE LAW JOURNAL.

Pintip is represented by literary agent Beth Miller of Writers House. Her debut novel, FORGET TOMORROW, won the RWA RITA® for Best First Book. Her other novels include THE DARKEST LIE, REMEMBER YESTERDAY, and the novella BEFORE TOMORROW.

She lives with her husband and children in Maryland. You can learn more about Pintip and her books at http://www.pintipdunn.com

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4.25Penguins
Quick Reasons: CREEPTASTIC CREEPO for the win!; I actually REALLY admire the way Pintip Dunn handled this book; there’s some awesome stuff happening with plot and characters; fast-paced, chilling read; I couldn’t put this down once I picked it up; this read is bound to stick with me

Huge thanks to Pintip Dunn, Kensington Publishing, and Xpresso Book Tours for sending me a free egalley of this title in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

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I have, in recent weeks, read a TON of books with creeptastic creepo characters…and I’m LOVING it. I’m having a huge blast stepping just a little outside my “normal” reads and, instead, straight into some uncomfortably wonderful journeys. There’s something about mixing it up that, I guess, has been calling my name LOUDLY lately–and books like this one, from Pintip Dunn, are helping to answer the call.

AND THIS BOOK, PENGUINS! I can’t even begin to explain how wild and unexpected this journey was, so I’ll instead break it down into some of the finer points. First things first–Pintip Dunn did something super interesting (and, now I’ve put the pieces together, TOTALLY AWESOME) with the POVs in this title. See….one perspective is written in first person, while the other is written from third. For the first few chapters, I kept asking myself WHY it was like this. It wasn’t until the very end, the BIG reveal (which I, unfortunately, sort of caught onto at the 65% mark in one of my infamous–and rather annoying–epiphany moments) that I realized the actual reason behind this. Of course, I can’t tell YOU what it is, because that would be spoilery and awful of me–but trust me, it is AWESOME, and I am tipping my hat to Pintip Dunn for having the foresight and forethought to do this from the get go. I just…. gaaaaaah! If you’ve read this book and you’re not sure what I’m talking about, feel free to message me on any of my social media or email outlets–I’d be happy to talk specifics!

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These characters are beautifully rendered. They are complex, and struggling with some pretty heavy things–things I haven’t necessarily seen tackled in other books thus far. I also really love all the nods to this family’s culture and heritage–it helped to more fully round out the characters and the story for me, as a reader. The plot is fast-paced and tense, with a ton of foreboding and a sense of “race to the finish” that picks up almost from page one. Also, the character reactions and interactions are wholly believable, and easy to understand or empathize with.

Overall, I really enjoyed my first foray into Pintip Dunn’s work, and will for sure be picking her up again in the future! These characters are well-rounded and complex, and the plot is super dramatic. While I easily picked up on the biggest “reveal” of the story, I REALLY loved the way Pintip Dunn played with POVs. I definitely recommend this to lovers of thrillers/suspense, creeptastic characters, and fast-paced action! Don’t get too close, penguins; this pact is dangerous!

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0

Unexpectedly Hers: The Slopes of Her Secrets are Steep

bookreview

Unexpectedly Hers (Sterling Canyon, #3)

Unexpectedly Hers (Sterling Canyon #3)
by Jamie Beck
Chick Lit / Contemporary / Romance
282 Pages
Montlake Romance
Publication Date:  February 21st, 2017
Get a copy here!

BLURB: 

By day, bashful wallflower Emma Duffy works at her family’s bed-and-breakfast. By night, she secretly pens erotic romance hot enough to melt the snow in their cozy Rockies town.

But Emma’s real life is about to heat up when her mother books the entire inn to a professional snowboarder, hoping the publicity will put them on the map. In a karmic twist of fate, that guest is Wyatt Lawson, the man with whom Emma had shared the secret one-night stand that became the inspiration for her novel and its dreamy hero. Worse, a film crew is documenting his comeback just as her debut is about to hit the shelves. Emma’s only saving grace is that Wyatt doesn’t remember her—and hopefully he never will.

When Wyatt arrives in Sterling Canyon for several weeks of intense training, the last tumble he expects to take is falling for a girl, especially one as shy as Emma. Unlike groupies with their hidden agendas, she isn’t using him—or so he believes…until the film crew uncovers Emma’s pen name and steamy novel.

Wyatt’s comeback run can withstand a fall or two, but can his heart recover from this crash and burn?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

jamie-beck-press2 (3).jpg Jamie Beck is a Romance Writers of America Honor Roll author with a passion for writing stories about love and redemption, including her best selling St. James and Sterling Canyon series. When she’s not writing, you can find her dancing around her kitchen or hitting the slopes in Utah and Vermont. Above all, she’s a grateful wife and mother to a very patient and supportive family.

Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon

3.75Penguins
Quick Reasons: cutesy contemporary; shy wallflower to strong woman plot; mostly believable romance; the ending seemed a little too easy; unexplained girl hate; weird, though believable, family dynamics; interesting look into the many layers of guilt

Huge thanks to Jamie Beck, Montlake Romance, and PR By the Book for sending me a free digital galley of this title in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book!

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So first things first: I was super nervous, when I received this book for review, that I’d be stepping into the middle of a story and wind up SUPER confused (or, at the very least, super spoiled on the previous two novels). Much to my surprise, this read like a standalone novel–in fact, I was immediately immersed in the story and SO admire the way Jamie Beck both brought back the recurring/previous characters, while still allowing this novel to stand apart and be read on its own. That being said, now that I’ve had a chance to look up the previous two novels, there ARE a few spoiler-y moments I encountered….but in the end, they’re so minute and tiny, I feel as if I could still backtrack and read those two novels without too much fuss.

The romance in this particular read is super believable and SO, SO steamy–seriously, my poor penguin beak about melted off my face during certain sexy moments, though Jamie Beck wrote them to remain tasteful enough that sensitive readers won’t have problems reading the scenes. While there are some moments of tension/plot-heavy action…the book, for the most part, is more focused upon the characters and their changes/growth journeys. Emma’s story, in particular, was super sweet and endearing to read–her growth from shy wallflower into strong, comfortable-with-herself woman has become something of an inspiration for me, to be honest. I really, really enjoyed following her through these events of her life!

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I was a little bit disappointed with how quickly things are resolved in the end. I felt like Wyatt left Emma with SO much drama and anger, only to “suddenly” realize how right she was for him after seeing her again several weeks later. It felt a bit contrived, honestly, and wasn’t entirely believable for me. While I understand forgiveness, I felt like Wyatt’s complete 180 in emotions was a bit TOO quick in coming.

Still, I had a ton of fun getting to know these characters and visiting their sleepy Colorado town. The fact that the settings are so close to my home (Wyoming girl, here!) brought about a fair amount of nostalgia–though I have to admit, I still don’t miss the cold or snow! I definitely recommend this read to lovers of chick lit, contemporary romances, and character-focused plots. Put on your goggles and strap in, penguins–these slopes are steep!

2

Geekerella: All that’s Missing Are the Mice

bookreview

GeekerellaGeekerella
by Ashley Poston
320 Pages
Quirk Books
Publication Date:  April 4th, 2017
Get a copy here!

BLURB:

Anything can happen once upon a con…

When geek girl Elle Wittimer sees a cosplay contest sponsored by the producers of Starfield, she has to enter. First prize is an invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. Elle’s been scraping together tips from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck behind her stepmother’s back, and winning this contest could be her ticket out once and for all—not to mention a fangirl’s dream come true.

Teen actor Darien Freeman is less than thrilled about this year’s ExcelsiCon. He used to live for conventions, but now they’re nothing but jaw-aching photo sessions and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Federation Prince Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but the diehard Starfield fandom has already dismissed him as just another heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, closet nerd Darien feels more and more like a fake—until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise.

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4Penguins
Quick Reasons: yet another CINDERELLA retelling!; I loved the nerdculture/comic con references happening throughout; awesome, entertaining voice; these characters are pretty rocking; LOVELOVELOVE the play on fandom; not so sure how I feel about a few of the relationships here

Huge thanks to Ashley Poston, Quirk Books, and Netgalley for sending me a free digital galley of this title in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

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As so often happens when I pick up a CINDERELLA retelling (or ANY retelling, honestly), I found myself swept up in the magic of the story…and yet, somehow, also questioning some of the relationships. Now, don’t get me wrong–I totally understand the whole “wicked stepmother, evil step-siblings” trope. By “understand” I mean I get why it has to exist. But recently, I’ve begun to question the REALITY of such relationships. In this book, for instance: it’s really unclear exactly why the stepmother is so determined to be so cruel to Elle. I get that the stepsister is really just “following by example” in this case, and can therefore wrap my head around her being so unnecessarily snotty. But the stepmom? While we get a bit of an explanation later on in the story, it just… it doesn’t really FIT for me. It doesn’t really make much sense, or explain anything. It’s an excuse, in the end–not a justification or explanation. So I’m not sure how much I believed that particular relationship–it just didn’t seem very realistic.  It felt, in fact, just a little forced to fit the fairy tale trope, in my opinion.

 

That being said, however–these characters shine! The personalities are all individualized; I absolutely adored watching Elle transform and grow from “shy girl who never says no” to “independent, strong young lady.” I also adored all the mini references/nods to the original Cinderella–such as the pumpkin/chariot, which I only JUST now realized and pieced together (oops!)

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The play on fandom and cons was super entertaining for this lover of all things nerdculture, and I so appreciated all the pop culture references laced throughout. It was so great to watch these characters react to and interact with others over their passion–and introduce a few specific special characters to the obsession, as well! I had a TON of fun watching the relationship between Elle and Darien evolve, as well–they’re so sweetly cute and tooth-rotting!

 

Overall, this was an entertaining read FULL of nerdculture/pop culture references. The characters are well-written, though a few of the relationships felt a bit too contrived to fit tropes for my taste. Also…I now wish that Starfield was an actual thing, because it sounds amazeballs. I definitely recommend to my fellow retellings fanatics, lovers of modern-day fairy tales, and other pop culture nerds. Roll up your sleeves and step on the gas, penguins; it’s time the masks came off.

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Book Tour and Review: The Married Girls

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Costeloe_THE MARRIED GIRLS The Married Girls
(The Girl with No Name #2)
by Diney Costeloe

Historical Fiction/Women’s Fiction
Head of Zeus Publishing
Publication Date: February 17th, 2017
420 Pages

BRAND NEW FROM THE BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF THE SISTERS OF ST. CROIX, THE THROWAWAY CHILDREN AND THE GIRL WITH NO NAME.

Wynsdown, 1949. In the small Somerset village of Wynsdown, Charlotte Shepherd is happily married to farmer Billy. She arrived from Germany on the Kindertransport as a child during the war and now feels settled in her adopted home.

Meanwhile, the squire’s fighter pilot son, Felix, has returned to the village with a fiancée in tow. Daphne is beautiful, charming… and harbouring secrets. After meeting during the war, Felix knows some of Daphne’s past, but she has worked hard to conceal that which could unravel her carefully built life.

For Charlotte, too, a dangerous past is coming back in the shape of fellow refugee, bad boy Harry Black. Forever bound by their childhoods, Charlotte will always care for him, but Harry’s return disrupts the village quiet and it’s not long before gossip spreads.

The war may have ended, but for these girls, trouble is only just beginning.

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Costeloe 1_bwAbout the Author:

Encouraged by my publisher father, I have been writing all my life. When I was five, he took my first effort to his office and brought it back in a cardboard cover with the label, ‘Tom’s Party’written by Diney, published by Daddy. I’ve never looked back and always have some writing on the go. To date I have written 10 romantic novels under the name of Diney Delancey (I liked the shape of the name and it sounded like a romantic novelist) and four novels as Diney Costeloe. All are also in large print and several recently published as e-books.

See my reviews on Amazon and on my website, http://www.dineycosteloe.co.uk or http://castlehavenbooks.co.uk


bookreview

3.75Penguins
Quick Reasons: this book and I did not agree much; beautiful, evocative, atmospheric writing; I felt transported into the time period; realistic, flawed, but redeemable characters; the two main women seem to foil each other, almost; the juxtaposition was clever and well-done

Huge thanks to Diney Costeloe, Head of Zeus Publishing, and Netgalley for sending me a free digital galley of this title in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

Okay, penguins, this might make me a terrible person, but… this book and I didn’t get along very well at all. I think the biggest issue was, I couldn’t find any ounce of CARE for these characters. While Charlotte was likable and her devotion to her family and husband obvious, she didn’t much leap off the page at me for a majority of the read. And Daphne… Well, to be honest, Daphne rubbed me the wrong way from the get-go. I wasn’t fond of her AT ALL–though looking back on it, I’m sure that might have been part of the point.

These two women, the married girls this story revolves around…they were cleverly and beautifully written foils. In fact, I found myself musing over their complete opposite-ness throughout most of the read. Diney Costeloe did a wonderful job of penning the two in different, individualized personalities…while still keeping them somewhat redeemable. Despite this, I unfortunately, as a reader, could not connect with either of them–I could not celebrate their victories or mourn their losses as I was hoping to going into this read.

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Still, the historical fiction aspect was well-written and transporting. I felt I’d taken a trip back in time and landed in this neighborhood to watch the events unfold. And as much as I disagreed with the book, I found myself intrigued regardless. There were small moments with Charlotte–seeing her with her kids, watching her interact with her husband, the strength she had hiding deep beneath her skin that flared in moments of upset–that made me admire her. There’s something to be said about the strength of a woman able to keep her head high in the midst of a flurry of rumors, like Charlotte does. Watching her confront the woman behind the rumors? was both entertaining and awe-inspiring for me.

So while I wouldn’t probably pick up another book in this particular series, I did find the adventure to be thought-provoking and emotionally challenging at times. I wish I had been more able to connect with the characters; they were written as such wonderfully complex foils, I feel I might have missed out just a little on something magical. I would recommend this to lovers of historical fiction, flawed but redeemable characters, and the exploration of human nature. This book transported me to a different time; maybe you should turn off the modern world and let it do the same for you!