Friday, 29 January 2016

Review: Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell

by Lisa Maxwell
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 352
Release Date: February 2nd, 2016
Purchase: [Chapters/Indigo] [Amazon]
For as long as she can remember, Gwendolyn Allister has never had a place to call home—all because her mother believes that monsters are hunting them. Now these delusions have brought them to London, far from the life Gwen had finally started to build for herself. The only saving grace is her best friend, Olivia, who’s coming with them for the summer.

But when Gwen and Olivia are kidnapped by shadowy creatures and taken to a world of flesh-eating sea hags and dangerous Fey, Gwen realizes her mom might have been sane all along.

The world Gwen finds herself in is called Neverland, yet it’s nothing like the stories. Here, good and evil lose their meaning and memories slip like water through her fingers. As Gwen struggles to remember where she came from and find a way home, she must choose between trusting the charming fairy-tale hero who says all the right things and the roguish young pirate who promises to keep her safe.

With time running out and her enemies closing in, Gwen is forced to face the truths she’s been hiding from all along. But will she be able to save Neverland without losing herself?

"So the stories are true," I say, watching the dance of the waters. Maybe the tales weren't accurate, exactly, but ... "Neverland is real." I glance over at him. "And so are you."

When I think Peter Pan, I imagine the old Disney classic - a mysterious flying boy with pixie-pointed ears, a twinkling fairy, and an island full of lost boys and adventures to be had. I've always loved the idea of another world, isolated from our own, where you could lose yourself to new experiences, and I suppose Disney's re-telling is partly responsible for my deep fascination with Peter Pan (besides the fact that my name is Wendy *wink wink*). Beyond my fascination with Disney's classic rendition of J.M. Barrie's tale, I've dreamed of finding a semi (if not completely) modernized retelling that could captivate not only myself but teens, as well. When I came across Lisa Maxwell's Unhooked, I was determined to pick it up, hoping it would be everything I was looking for.

"I don't feel the pain at first. Until the blood wells from where the point of the knife has sliced my skin, I don't feel anything at all."

Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell is unlike any other Peter Pan retelling I've read. It was unique, refreshing, and incredibly well written. Gwendolyn (Wendy), Pan, and Rowan (Captain or Hook) were a welcome contrast to their predecessors. I realized very early in Unhooked that Lisa Maxwell didn't reveal all there was to these characters we've read and come to know as children. There was a deeper mystery to them, their true intentions, and a wickedly exciting twist to the circumstances that bring these characters to Neverland. I was ultimately on the edge of my seat from beginning to end, and overwhelmingly satisfied with Unhooked. It's a pity, however, that Lisa Maxwell's Unhooked is a standalone, I would have loved to see more of Rowan.

Romance, a roguish pirate, and a brand new Neverland are what readers can expect to find in Lisa Maxwell's Unhooked. Well-written, exciting, and utterly captivating!
4 / 5 Cupcakes

This title was provided to the blogger by the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review. No payment was received/accept in exchange for this review/post. The blogger requests that this review not be reposted or edited with the blogger's permission. The thoughts and words expressed in this review/post are explicitly the blogger's.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Waiting on Wednesday - A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

by Sarah J. Maas
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: May 3rd, 2016
Pre-order: [Amazon] [Chapters/Indigo]
Feyre survived Amarantha's clutches to return to the Spring Court--but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can't forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin's people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms--and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future--and the future of a world cleaved in two.

With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas's masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights.

Why I'm Anticipating This Title:
I've been a fan of Sarah J. Maas since Throne of Glass. That series is absolutely incredible and has made me a life-long Sarah fan! With that said, it's a given that I'd be highly anticipating A Court of Mist and Fury, the companion novel to A Court of Thorns and Roses. Have you started this series yet? Thoughts?

What are you waiting for this Wednesday?
Let me know what your highly anticipated upcoming release is in the comment section below =D

Happy Reading,

Monday, 25 January 2016

Review: City of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong

City of the Lost
by Kelley Armstrong
Publisher: Random House Canada
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 352
Release Date: January 2nd, 2016
Purchase: [Chapters/Indigo] [Amazon]
Casey Duncan once killed a man and got away with it. But that's not why she's on the run. Her best friend's ex has found Diana again, despite all Casey has done to protect her. And Diana has decided the only way she'll ever be safe is if she finds the mythical town she's heard of where people like her can go to hide. Turns out the town really exists, and will take Diana, but only if Casey, a talented young police detective, comes too.

Imagine a hidden town, isolated in the Yukon wilderness, where everyone is pretending to be someone they're not. Even good people can get up to some very bad stuff. The laconic town sheriff dispenses his own frontier justice, but he's more accustomed to sobering up drunks in the horse trough, than attempting to solve the series of brutal murders that has rocked the town. As much as he hates it, he needs Casey. As for Casey, coming to the far North may have started out as a sacrifice she was willing to make for her best friend. But maybe, just maybe, she needs Rockton as much as the town needs her.

"I killed a man," I say to my new therapist. I've barely settled on the couch ... which isn't a couch at all, but a chaise longue that looked inviting and proved horribly uncomfortable. Like therapy itself."

Originally a 6 part e-serial, City of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong was an absolute must for yours truly. If you've read any of my reviews on Kelley Armstrong in the past (ie; my review on The Masked Truth) , you'd know that I think very highly of both Kelley and her work. As much as I love (adore, really) her paranormal titles, thrillers really look good on Kelley.

"Our eyes meet, and there are traces of defiance in hers, but only traces, as she clings to that, as if refusing to turn in her ex is her choice. And if he doesn't have her so terrified she can't see any other option."

City of the Lost is the first installment in Kelley Armstrong's Casey Duncan series. Leading with a phenomenally fierce protagonist. City of the Lost was the perfect thriller! I was immediately submersed in Kelley's tale of Casey, her torturous past, and the mysterious hidden town that has everyone wondering. The mystery, the suspense, and Kelley's twists and turns were absolutely mind bending and challenging - I loved it!

Fans of Kelley will positively fall for City of the Lost. It's fresh, unique, and will continue to keep you on your toes.

5 / 5 Cupcakes

This title was provided to the blogger by the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review. No payment was received/accept in exchange for this review/post. The blogger requests that this review not be reposted or edited with the blogger's permission. The thoughts and words expressed in this review/post are explicitly the blogger's.

Friday, 22 January 2016

Review: The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman

The Dark Days Club
by Alison Goodman
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Release Date: January 26th, 2016
Purchase: [Chapters/Indigo] [Amazon]
London, April 1812. On the eve of eighteen-year-old Lady Helen Wrexhall’s presentation to the queen, one of her family’s housemaids disappears-and Helen is drawn into the shadows of Regency London. There, she meets Lord Carlston, one of the few who can stop the perpetrators: a cabal of demons infiltrating every level of society. Dare she ask for his help, when his reputation is almost as black as his lingering eyes? And will her intelligence and headstrong curiosity wind up leading them into a death trap?


"In the sun-warmed quiet of her uncle's library, Lady Helen Wrexhall spread the skirt of her muslin morning gown and sank into the deep curtsy required for Royal presentation..."

I've wanted to read Eon and Eona for sooooo long, Cupcakes! I mean it, it's been on my tbr list for the longest time, and I've regrettably never had the chance to settle down and read them. Though after reading The Dark Days Club, Alison Goodman's latest and first installment in the Lady Helen series, I'm starting to feel like I really need to remedy that fact.

"Lady Margaret was right: it was the stink of the Devil's Acre that came first."

The Dark Days Club was an instant win for yours truly. Pitched as a London 1812 tale about eighteen year old Lady Helen Wrexhall who is faced with making an important choice on how she is to lead her life, I was surprised by how captivating Alison's historical fic/fantasy title truly was! It felt slightly (but not by much) similar to the Soulless series by Gail Carriger, however Alison Goodman's unique plot twists and intriguing characters (including protagonist Helen) were an extraordinary experience. I'm excitedly anticipating the release of Lady Helen #2!

4 / 5 Cupcakes

This title was provided to the blogger by the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review. No payment was received/accept in exchange for this review/post. The blogger requests that this review not be reposted or edited with the blogger's permission. The thoughts and words expressed in this review/post are explicitly the blogger's.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Waiting on Wednesday - Shades of Darkness by A.R. Kahler

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

by A.R. Kahler
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: March 8th, 2016
Pre-order: [Amazon] [Chapters/Indigo]
American Gods meets The Secret History in this suspenseful start to a brand-new fantasy trilogy about a girl named Kaira Winters, the murders that keep happening at her artsy boarding school, and the lengths she must go to in order to protect the people she loves.

When Kaira Winters decided to go to Islington—a boarding school deep in the woods of Michigan—she thought she could finally get away from everything she has tried so hard to forget, including some things from her past that she refuses to believe ever actually happened.

Everything seemed great until the bodies of murdered students started appearing all over campus. The victims seem to have been killed in some sort of ritual sacrifice. And even worse, Kaira’s dreams are giving her clues to the killer’s identity.

Though she tries to resist, Kaira quickly realizes that she is the only one who can stop the violence, but to do so she must come to terms with her past. She’s going to have to listen to the voice that is buried deep within her…the one that claims to have unimaginable power…the one that claims to be an actual goddess.

But even if Kaira can harness the power within her, will it be enough to stop the darkness that has fallen over her school? And if it is strong enough, then what’s to stop the goddess from wreaking her own havoc once she’s released?

Filled with murder, mystery, and a little bit of magic, this fresh genre-bending novel is a thrilling page-turner you won’t be able to put down until the very last page.

Why I'm Anticipating This Title:

So A.R. Kahler's Shades of Darkness sounds A-MAZ-ING! A thriller with a twist of the paranormal and mythological? Yes, please! Sign me up!

What are you waiting for this Wednesday?
Let me know what your highly anticipated upcoming release is in the comment section below =D

Happy Reading,

Monday, 18 January 2016

Review: Worlds of Ink and Shadow by Lena Coakley

Worlds of Ink and Shadow
by Lena Coakley
Publisher: HarperCollins Canada
Release Date: January 5th, 2016
Purchase: [Chapters/Indigo] [Amazon]
Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne. The Brontë siblings have always been inseparable. After all, nothing can bond four siblings quite like life in an isolated parsonage out on the moors. Their vivid imaginations lend them escape from their strict upbringing, actually transporting them into their created worlds: the glittering Verdopolis and the romantic and melancholy Gondal. But at what price? As Branwell begins to slip into madness and the sisters feel their real lives slipping away, they must weigh the cost of their powerful imaginations, even as their characters—the brooding Rogue and dashing Duke of Zamorna—refuse to let them go.

Gorgeously written and based on the Brontës’ juvenilia, Worlds of Ink & Shadow brings to life one of history’s most celebrated literary families.

"Charlotte Bronte dipped her pen into the inkwell and dabbed it on a blotter. For a long moment she held it over the blank page, waiting. She was writing the final scene of a story, and she wanted it to be ... transcendent."

As a big fan of Lena Coakley's Withlanders, I was ecstatic at the news of Worlds of Ink and Shadow, a fantasy novel focusing on the Brontes. As a lover of books, the Bronte's have always been my go-to authors when stuck in a reading rut. Their titles have always inspired me to be creative, imaginative, and inquisitive. With that said. Lena's latest was an absolute must-read for yours truly. I was excited to learn how Lena would portray literature's most renowned classic authors and how she'd spin the fantasy aspect on her intended tale.

"It might have been the rain. It droned against the roof above him, against the window glass, sometimes harder, sometimes softer. Like breathing. In, out. In, out. Branwell glanced at his reflection in the mirror propped against the chair, then lifted his paintbrush. In, out."

Worlds of Ink and Shadow was intriguing, compelling, and extraordinary. Lena's way with words and creating a scene truly brought this tale to life. Reading about the Bronte's from Lena's otherworldly POV and experiencing all her unique thrilling and suspenseful twists were a glorious breath of fresh air. Readers who have enjoyed ANY Bronte title in the past absolutely must give Lena Coakley's latest a read. Worlds of Ink and Shadow will surprise you and keep you on your toes from beginning to end.

4 / 5 Cupcakes

This title was provided to the blogger by the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review. No payment was received/accept in exchange for this review/post. The blogger requests that this review not be reposted or edited with the blogger's permission. The thoughts and words expressed in this review/post are explicitly the blogger's.

Friday, 15 January 2016

Review: The Killing Jar by Jennifer Bosworth

The Killing Jar
by Jennifer Bosworth
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 352
Release Date: January 12th, 2016
Purchase: [Chapters/Indigo] [Amazon]
“I try not to think about it, what I did to that boy.”

Seventeen-year-old Kenna Marsden has a secret.

She’s haunted by a violent tragedy she can’t explain. Kenna’s past has kept people—even her own mother—at a distance for years. Just when she finds a friend who loves her and life begins to improve, she’s plunged into a new nightmare. Her mom and twin sister are attacked, and the dark powers Kenna has struggled to suppress awaken with a vengeance.

On the heels of the assault, Kenna is exiled to a nearby commune, known as Eclipse, to live with a relative she never knew she had. There, she discovers an extraordinary new way of life as she learns who she really is, and the wonders she’s capable of. For the first time, she starts to feel like she belongs somewhere. That her terrible secret makes her beautiful and strong, not dangerous. But the longer she stays at Eclipse, the more she senses there is something malignant lurking underneath it all. And she begins to suspect that her new family has sinister plans for her…

"Sometimes you forget you're alive until you're scared to death."

Jennifer Bosworth is one of those debut authors that instantly stuck to me. I loved her debut "Struck", about a teen girl who's a lightning addict, and recommended it to just about everyone I knew at the time, praising it over and over again. Undeniably, I was excited to read Jennifer's next title, "The Killing Jar". A tale with a peculiar (and curious) name, it's synopsis instantly intrigued me.

"There was a game the Kalyptra liked to play. A game they'd invented that was similar to Truth or Dare."

As a horror title that is vastly different than Jennifer's debut "Struck", I found The Killing Jar to be a fairly entertaining and spooky (perhaps even bone chilling?) read. Even so, I felt that it fell a little flat to my initial expectations. Kenna was a riveting character, unique in personality and circumstance. She was interesting from the get-go and I found myself easily pulled into her engrossing narrative. Despite that, I didn't completely fall in love with The Killing Jar. I felt there was much that was failed to be mentioned (or rather re-visited) towards the end, which left me ultimately letdown.

"I was breathless, my mind spinning like a top right before it goes out of control."

The Killing Jar by Jennifer Bosworth is a unique, creepy, and bone-chilling read. Perfect for teens and adults looking for something different and fans of Bosworth's debut "Struck".

3 / 5 Cupcakes

This title was provided to the blogger by the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review. No payment was received/accept in exchange for this review/post. The blogger requests that this review not be reposted or edited with the blogger's permission. The thoughts and words expressed in this review/post are explicitly the blogger's.

Monday, 11 January 2016

Review: Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

by Alexandra Bracken
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 496
Release Date: January 5th, 2016
Purchase: [Chapters/Indigo] [Amazon]
passage, n.
i. A brief section of music composed of a series of notes and flourishes.
ii. A journey by water; a voyage.
iii. The transition from one place to another, across space and time.

In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles but years from home. And she’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of. Until now.

Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods—a powerful family in the colonies—and the servitude he’s known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can’t escape and the family that won’t let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, Nicholas’ passenger, can find. In order to protect her, he must ensure she brings it back to them— whether she wants to or not.

Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are play­ing, treacherous forces threaten to sep­arate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home . . . forever

Having loved Alexandra Bracken's Darkest Minds series, Passenger was an absolute must on my 2016 to-read/review list. Having known that Alexandra would not disappoint, considering her world building and characters were phenomenal in the past, I instantly dove into my galley the moment it arrived.

“Good ideas had in the dark were generally best left there.”

Despite Passenger's unique premise, I had several quips with the title. Regrettably, it was very slow-moving in the first few chapters, and it's narrative, though leisurely, felt sluggish and led me to setting the title aside in exchange for another more than once. Even so, when I finally concluded the novel, I felt that the journey Alexandra Bracken took Etta and Nicholas through was intriguing, adventurous, and extraordinary. The duo were an excellent contrast to each other, and although I didn't immediately feel a connection with them, I enjoyed their banter and inner dialogue.

“That's beautiful," she said. He turned to her. "Would you like me to go take that violin for you? I'd gladly fight whatever angry mob rises up if it might make you smile." Her heart just about burst at that. Be brave. "I would only want to play for you.”

Passenger by Alexandra Bracken was undoubtedly unique. Passenger possesses a unique writing style, creative world, and a series of incredible unspoken adventures to be had. I absolutely look forward to reading it's companion.

3.5 / 5 Cupcakes

This title was provided to the blogger by the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review. No payment was received/accept in exchange for this review/post. The blogger requests that this review not be reposted or edited with the blogger's permission. The thoughts and words expressed in this review/post are explicitly the blogger's.

Friday, 8 January 2016

Review: Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Release Date: January 5th, 2016
Purchase: [Chapters/Indigo] [Amazon]
Seventeen-year-old Mercedes Ayres has an open-door policy when it comes to her bedroom, but only if the guy fulfills a specific criteria: he has to be a virgin. Mercedes lets the boys get their awkward, fumbling first times over with, and all she asks in return is that they give their girlfriends the perfect first time- the kind Mercedes never had herself.

Keeping what goes on in her bedroom a secret has been easy- so far. Her absentee mother isn’t home nearly enough to know about Mercedes’ extracurricular activities, and her uber-religious best friend, Angela, won’t even say the word “sex” until she gets married. But Mercedes doesn’t bank on Angela’s boyfriend finding out about her services and wanting a turn- or on Zach, who likes her for who she is instead of what she can do in bed.

When Mercedes’ perfect system falls apart, she has to find a way to salvage her reputation and figure out where her heart really belongs in the process. Funny, smart, and true-to-life, FIRSTS is a one-of-a-kind young adult novel about growing up.

Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn is THE book teens (and adults) absolutely must read in 2016. Firsts gives readers a realistic perspective on sexuality and being comfortable in one's skin, and is pleasantly completely void of any unrealistic fairy tale nonsense that is often found in most coming of age tales.

I admit, I was fairly judgmental (though I swear it was just for a few moments) when I first came across Firsts on a fellow blogger's Waiting on Wednesday post. Mercedes did not sound like the kind of character I wanted younger readers to get to know, and I certainly was taken back by the synopsis. Judgments aside, Laurie's debut novel created a fierce curiosity in me, one that desperately left me wanting to request the title early for review. I didn't walk into Firsts looking for disappointment, but walked in looking to find a book that would transcend all others before it.

Seventeen year old Mercedes has a mission - helping boys get over their awkward "first time" so they can give their girlfriends THEIR perfect "first time".  Unfortunately, this perfect system of hers doesn't stick for long, and when things fall apart, her reputation comes into question and Mercedes is faced with the task of salvaging what's left of it.

Mercedes was a powerful character, one I couldn't help loving. Fierce and completely comfortable in her own skin, I felt that Mercedes was a wonderful character that I strongly hope teens will relate with. Firsts will without a doubt leave it's readers irrevocably satisfied with Mercedes ups, downs, and in-betweens, and as a beautifully written and inspiring coming of age story, I look forward to seeing more from Laurie Elizabeth Flynn.

4 / 5 Cupcakes

This title was provided to the blogger by the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review. No payment was received/accept in exchange for this review/post. The blogger requests that this review not be reposted or edited with the blogger's permission. The thoughts and words expressed in this review/post are explicitly the blogger's.

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Waiting on Wednesday - A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

by Brittany Cavallaro
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: March 1st, 2016
Pre-order: [Amazon] [Chapters/Indigo]
The last thing sixteen-year-old Jamie Watson–writer and great-great-grandson of the John Watson–wants is a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school just an hour away from his estranged father. But that’s not the only complication: Sherringford is also home to Charlotte Holmes, the famous detective’s enigmatic, fiercely independent great-great-granddaughter, who’s inherited not just his genius but also his vices, volatile temperament, and expertly hidden vulnerability. Charlotte has been the object of his fascination for as long as he can remember–but from the moment they meet, there’s a tense energy between them, and they seem more destined to be rivals than anything else.

Then a Sherringford student dies under suspicious circumstances ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Holmes stories, and Jamie and Charlotte become the prime suspects. Convinced they’re being framed, they must race against the police to conduct their own investigation. As danger mounts, it becomes clear that nowhere is safe and the only people they can trust are each other.

Equal parts tender, thrilling, and hilarious, A Study in Charlotte is the first in a trilogy brimming with wit and edge-of-the-seat suspense

Why I'm Anticipating This Title:
Everything about A STUDY IN CHARLOTTE sounds wonderful! It's a Watson-Holmes retelling of sorts with fresh new characters, a thrilling mystery, and more. Early reviews are very positive and I'm so looking forward to picking up a copy of my own. I'm so excited for March 1st!

What are you waiting for this Wednesday?
Let me know what your highly anticipated upcoming release is in the comment section below =D

Happy Reading,

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Review + Q/A: Bounders by Monica Tesler

by Monica Tesler
Publisher: Aladdin
Pages: 384
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: January 5th, 2016
Purchase: [Amazon] [Chapters/Indigo]
In the tradition of Michael Vey and The Unwanteds, twelve-year-old Jasper and his friends are forced to go up against an alien society in this first book in a brand-new adventure series!

Thirteen years ago, Earth Force—a space-military agency—discovered a connection between brain structure and space travel. Now they’ve brought together the first team of cadets, called Bounders, to be trained as high-level astronauts.

Twelve-year-old Jasper is part of this team being sent out into space. After being bullied back on Earth, Jasper is thrilled to have something new and different to do with other kids who are more like him. While learning all about the new technologies and taking classes in mobility—otherwise known as flying with jetpacks—Jasper befriends the four other students in his pod and finally feels like he has found his place in the world.

But then Jasper and his new friends learn that they haven’t been told everything about Earth Force. They weren’t brought to space for astronaut training, but to learn a new, highly classified brain-sync technology that allows them to manipulate matter and quantum bound, or teleport. And it isn’t long before they find out this new technology was actually stolen from an alien society.

When Jasper and his friends discover the truth about why Earth Force needs them, they are faced with a choice: rebel against the academy that brought them together, or fulfill their duty and protect the planet at all costs.

When Simon & Schuster Canada approached me to review Bounders, Monica Tesler's debut, I was thrilled! It isn't often I come across a middle-grade title that excites me the moment it's pitched to me, but that's exactly what Bounders did. As a sci-fi title targeted towards younger readers, I was beyond thrilled to learn more about Monica's space-aged world and it's array of diverse characters.

"I don't think breaking rules on day one is the brightest idea, but I don't want to look like a complete wimp in front of Marco."

Twelve year old Jasper is a cadet - a Bounder - recruited by the  Academy. In the state-of-the-art facilities, Jasper and his fellow cadets are trained and taught about new technology. Unfortunately, all isn't as it seems with Earth Force. When Jasper and his fellow cadets discover the truth behind the academy and the need for Bounders, they are faced with a life-altering choice - rebel against Earth Force or stay loyal.

"Did we make it?"
"I hope so. Either that or we're all lost together in some alternate dimension."

Readers can expect to see wonderful things from Monica Tesler! Bounders, the first installment in her debut series, was utterly captivating! Jasper (and friends) were excellent characters, each of which I inexplicably felt connected to, and of which I couldn't wait to share with other fellow readers (namely my younger nieces and nephews, whom, by the way, LOVED Bounders). I highly recommend Bounders to not just younger readers, but older readers as well, who are interested in a new perspective in the science fiction genre. Monica Tesler's world building, plot twists, and characters are a breath of fresh air and worth every flip of the page.

4 / 5 Cupcakes

Q/A with Monica Tesler
The author of Bounders

 How does it feel to be releasing your very first novel out into the world?

It’s overwhelming to be running toward a target for so long and then finally have it in sight. I’m trying to take some moments to pause and reflect on the journey. Once I’m a published author, there will be new things to chase and fret about. That’s the nature of the run, there’s always another target to be reached. Now, though, the two words that sum up how I’m feeling are elation and gratitude.

What inspired you when writing Bounders? Furthermore, why middle grade sci-fi?

When I started writing with an eye toward publication, I quickly learned two things. First, I love writing novels. Second, it’s very hard to get published. My older son had just fallen in love with reading and was devouring Rick Riordan’s books and other middle grade fantasy and speculative series. We share a love of stories with heavy world building that invite you to escape into their pages even after you’ve put the book down. I wrote BOUNDERS knowing that it was a story and world we would both like, and the experience would be fun and stimulating regardless of whether the book ever made it out of our own house.

What are you hoping younger readers will take from reading Bounders?

First and foremost, I hope readers find in BOUNDERS an immersive world, a fun and exciting adventure, and relatable characters. And I hope my book fuels the love of reading, pushing readers to seek out others stories and adventures and discover new authors. Beyond that, I think BOUNDERS leaves readers with some things to think about like the value of brain difference, ethics and technology, and themes of loyalty, teamwork, and being yourself. Anyone can be a hero.

Advice for aspiring authors hoping to publish their own middle grade titles in the future?

The best advice I can give aspiring authors is to write something they enjoy and let go of outcomes. It’s important to learn how to finish projects and be able to set them aside and start something new. Get connected with other writers and gain an understanding of the business of publishing while writing, but don’t let that become too much of a time drain. Twitter will take your day away if you let it. Read.

What else can readers expect to see from you after Bounders?

I recently submitted the second book in the BOUNDERS series to my fabulous editor, Michael Strother at Simon & Schuster/Aladdin. Soon I’ll get to work on the third. In the mean time, I have some new characters and worlds floating around in my brain that may make their way into a book some day soon.


I'd like to extend a big thank you to Monica Tesler for agreeing to participate in my quick Q/A, and Simon & Schuster Canada for being absolutely wonderful!

This title was provided to the blogger by the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review. No payment was received/accept in exchange for this review/post. The blogger requests that this review not be reposted or edited with the blogger's permission. The thoughts and words expressed in this review/post are explicitly the blogger's.

Release Day Launch - Thief of Lies by Brenda Drake (Excerpt + Giveaway)

Thief of Lies_BannerFinal_RGB

I'm thrilled to be taking part in Brenda Drake's Release Day Launch (hosted by Jen Halligan PR) for THIEF OF LIES (Library Jumpers #1)! Check out the book and excerpt below, and be sure to enter the amazing giveaways!

Now onto the release day launch!

Thief of Lies (Library Jumpers #1)
Thief of Lies by 

Brenda Drake
Gia Kearns would rather fight with boys than kiss them. That is, until Arik, a leather- clad hottie in the Boston Athenaeum suddenly disappears. While examining the book of world libraries he abandoned, Gia unwittingly speaks the key that sucks her and her friends into a photograph and transports them into a Paris library, where Arik and his Sentinels—magical knights charged with protecting humans from the creatures traveling across the gateway books—rescue them from a demonic hound. Jumping into some of the world’s most beautiful libraries would be a dream come true for Gia, if she weren’t busy resisting her heart or dodging an exiled wizard seeking revenge on both the Mystik and human worlds. Add a French flirt obsessed with Arik and a fling with a young wizard, and Gia must choose between her heart and her head, between Arik’s world and her own, before both are destroyed.
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Excerpt from THIEF OF LIES

We stepped into the Children’s Library and stopped in the center of the room. A massive light fixture designed to resemble the solar system dominated the ceiling. The hushed rumble of two male voices came from one of the reading nooks. I crossed the room, paused at the built-in aquarium, and inspected the fish. Afton halted beside me.

“This is great,” I whispered, not wanting to disturb whoever was in there with us. “Fish and books. What’s not to love?” Spotting a sign referencing classic books, I searched the shelves for my all-time favorite novel.

The male voices stopped and there was movement on the other side of the bookcase. I paused to listen, and when the voices started up again, I continued my hunt.

Warmth rushed over me when I found The Secret Garden. With its aged green cover, it was the same edition I remembered reading as a young girl. The illustrations inside were beautiful, and I just had to show them to Afton. Coming around the corner of the case, a little too fast for being in a library, I bumped into a guy dressed in leather biker gear. My book and notebook fell and slapped against the floor.

“Oh, I’m so sorry—” I lost all train of thought at the sight of him. He was gorgeous with tousled brown hair and dark eyes. Tall. He flashed me a crooked smile, a hint of dimples forming in his cheeks, before bending over and picking up my forgotten book.

He held the book out to me. “Mistress Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?” He’d quoted a verse from The Secret Garden with a sexy accent that tickled my ears.

I stood there like an idiot, my heart pounding hard against my chest, unable to think of a response. The fact that he had read the book and could recite a line from it stunned me. And impressed me.

Say something. Anything.

“Good read there,” he said when it was obvious I wasn’t going to speak. He winked and nodded to a guy behind him before ambling off. When he reached the end of the row, he paused and glanced back at me, flashing me another killer smile, and then he disappeared around the bookcase.

Tingles rose in my stomach. He looked back at me. The guy following his Royal Hotness gave me a final appraisal before departing. His stringy blond hair hung over his large forehead. It looked like he hadn’t washed it in weeks, and there was probably an acne breeding ground under it. He grinned, and I broke eye contact with him, making for the nearest window.

Oh God, you’re so lame, Gia. You could have finished the quote or anything less tragic than not speaking at all. The response I would have said played in my head. With silver bells, and cockleshells, and marigolds all in a row. Why? Why hadn’t I said that?

About the Author

Brenda Drake grew up the youngest of three children, an Air Force brat, and the continual new kid at school. Her fondest memories growing up are of her eccentric, Irish grandmother’s animated tales, which gave her a strong love for storytelling. So it was only fitting that she would choose to write stories with a bend toward the fantastical. When she’s not writing or hanging out with her family, she haunts libraries, bookstores, and coffee shops, or reads someplace quiet and not at all exotic (much to her disappointment).

Thief of Lies by Brenda 



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Monday, 4 January 2016

Review: Under Their Skin by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Under Their Skin
by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Pages: 320
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: January 5th, 2016
Purchase: [Amazon] [Chapters/Indigo]
From New York Times bestselling author Margaret Peterson Haddix comes the first book in a brand-new thrilling series about twins who are on a quest to discover the secrets being kept by their new family.

Nick and Eryn's mom is getting remarried, and the twelve-year-old twins are skeptical when she tells them their lives won't change much. Well, yes, they will have to move. And they will have a new stepfather, stepbrother, and stepsister. But Mom tells them not to worry. They won't ever have to meet their stepsiblings.

This news puzzles Nick and Eryn, so the twins set out on a mission to find out who these kids are - and why they're being kept hidden.

Having never read a title by Margaret Peterson Haddix in the past, I was curious to try Under Their Skin. Pitched as the first installment in a brand new series about twins discovering a hidden truth about their new family, I was desperate to pick it up and read it immediately.

"Life went on. Nick thought anyone watching him and Eryn would assume very little had changed for them."

Under their Skin, the first in a brand new series from Haddix, follows the tale of twins Nick and Eryn, who's mother is getting re-married. The sudden change means a new home, a new stepfather and step siblings. However, as scary as the sudden change is for the duo, they are reassured by their mother that they will, in fact, never meet their step-siblings. Evidently, they don't take the news well and begin a quest to track down the truth behind their new family.

Under Their Skin by Margaret Peterson Haddix was an intense psychologically moving title that is worthy of being read over and over. I wasn't quite sure what to expect from Haddix but I was not disappointed. Nick and Eryn, although vastly different characters, were both unexpectedly easy to relate with. Furthermore, the major plot twist (as I've been told by other Haddix readers is quite common in her titles) completely pulled the rug from beneath me. I hadn't expected it at all! Trying to grasp the big reveal was both a shock and absolutely exciting!

With that said, I absolutely cannot wait to read the companion novel to Under Their Skin. Fans of thought-provoking writing and suspense are highly encouraged to read Under Their Skin.
4 / 5 Cupcakes

This title was provided to the blogger by the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review. No payment was received/accept in exchange for this review/post. The blogger requests that this review not be reposted or edited with the blogger's permission. The thoughts and words expressed in this review/post are explicitly the blogger's.

Friday, 1 January 2016

Fresh on the Shelf - January 2016 Book Releases + Giveaway

Happy New Year, Cupcakes!

How was your 2015? 

I'm so super excited for 2016! Incredible book releases are headed our way and I absolutely cannot wait to dive into them. What are your most anticipated 2016 releases? Be sure to let me know!

In the meantime, check out these fantastic January 2016 releases. Don't forget to bookmark this page for your bookish-browsing convenience *wink wink*

January 2016 Book Releases:

Assassin's Masque by Sarah Zettel
Once Upon a Kiss by Robin Palmer
Thicker Than Water by Kelly Fiore
Night Study by Maria V. Snyder
Worlds of Ink and Shadow by Lena Coakley
Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
It's All Your Fault by Paul Rudnick
The Killing Jar by Jennifer Bosworth

Thief of Lies by Brenda Drake
The Impostor Queen by Sarah Fine
Shallow Graves by Kali Wallace
Bookishly Ever After by Isabel Bandeira
The Siren by Kiera Cass
Truthwitch by Susan Dennard
Up to this Pointe by Jennifer Longo
Sanctuary Bay by Laura J. Burns & Melinda Metz

Concentr8 by William Sutcliffe
The Isle by Jordana Frankel
My Second Life by Faye Bird
Shade Me by Jennifer Brown
The Capture by Tom Isbell
On the Meldon Plain by Pam Brondos
The Radiant Road by Katherine Catmull
Burn by Elissa Sussman

We Are The Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson
Sword and Verse by Kathy MacMillan
I'm From Nowhere by Suzanne Myers
Any Other Girl by Rebecca Phillips
The Year We Fell Apart by Emily Martin
I See Reality - Twelve Short Stories About Real Life
Elementals: The Prophecy of Shadows by Michelle Madow
The Possibility of Now by Kim Culbertson

Geek Girl by Holly Smale
Arrows by Melissa Gorzelancyzk
The Mystery of Hollow Places by Rebecca Podos
Front Lines by Michael Grant
The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman
Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Sarit
The Love That Split the World by Emily Henry
I Was Here by Gayle Forman

Rise of the Wolf by Jennifer A. Nielsen
Passenger by Alexandra Bracken
Cruel Crown by Victoria Aveyard
This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp
Underwater by Marisa Reichardt


Giveaway is for one book from the above January 2016 releases to be awarded to one reader. Open to anyone who can receive shipments from The Book Depository. I am not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged books received.

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Happy Reading,