Lady Smoke – ARC Review and Giveaway

About the Book:

Title: LADY SMOKE (Ash Princess Trilogy #2)

Author: Laura Sebastian

Pub. Date: February 5, 2019

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Formats: Hardcover, eBook, Audiobook

Pages: 512

Find it: GoodreadsAmazonAudible,  B&NiBooksTBD

The sequel to the instant New York Times bestseller that was “made for fans of Victoria Aveyard and Sabaa Tahir” ( Bustle ), Lady Smoke is an epic new fantasy about a throne cruelly stolen and a girl who must fight to take it back for her people. 


The Kaiser murdered Theodosia’s mother, the Fire Queen, when Theo was only six. He took Theo’s country and kept her prisoner, crowning her Ash Princess–a pet to toy with and humiliate for ten long years. That era has ended. The Kaiser thought his prisoner weak and defenseless. He didn’t realize that a sharp mind is the deadliest weapon.


Theo no longer wears a crown of ashes. She has taken back her rightful title, and a hostage–Prinz Soren. But her people remain enslaved under the Kaiser’s rule, and now she is thousands of miles away from them and her throne.


To get them back, she will need an army. Only, securing an army means she must trust her aunt, the dreaded pirate Dragonsbane. And according to Dragonsbane, an army can only be produced if Theo takes a husband. Something an Astrean Queen has never done.


Theo knows that freedom comes at a price, but she is determined to find a way to save her country without losing herself.


A darkly enchanting page-turner you won’t be able to put down.” –Bustle on Ash Princess, Book 1 in the Ash Princess series

About Book 1:

Title: ASH PRINCESS (Ash Princess Trilogy #1)

Author: Laura Sebastian

Pub. Date: April 24, 2018

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Formats: Hardcover, eBook, Audiobook

Pages: 432

Find it: GoodreadsAmazonAudible,  B&N,  iBooksTBD

Theodosia was six when her country was invaded and her mother, the Fire Queen, was murdered before her eyes. On that day, the Kaiser took Theodosia’s family, her land, and her name. Theo was crowned Ash Princess–a title of shame to bear in her new life as a prisoner.

For ten years Theo has been a captive in her own palace. She’s endured the relentless abuse and ridicule of the Kaiser and his court. She is powerless, surviving in her new world only by burying the girl she was deep inside.

Then, one night, the Kaiser forces her to do the unthinkable. With blood on her hands and all hope of reclaiming her throne lost, she realizes that surviving is no longer enough. But she does have a weapon: her mind is sharper than any sword. And power isn’t always won on the battlefield.

For ten years, the Ash Princess has seen her land pillaged and her people enslaved. That all ends here.

Review:

The second book in the Ash Princess trilogy did not disappoint. I’m starting my review that way because I want to stress how good this was, how surprising it was to read a middle book that impressed. You all should know me well enough by now that I can struggle with fantasy books but I did not with this one. I enjoyed it immensely.

While I do gush about the wonder that is the a second book that amazes, the overall plot was not overly unique or complicated. While there is a lot going on within the plot, it could seem like too much to some readers so keep that in mind. Here are some examples: Complex politics, secrets, betrayal, fighting for the rights to the kingdom, and more. I won’t talk about the romance because it was not the part of the plot I chose to focus on. It did not do much for me, if I’m being honest. However, Sebastian took what could have been a mediocre story and put her touch on it to make it enjoyable. I was hooked and couldn’t put this down until the last page. Then I screamed because I won’t know how it turned out until next year.

Theo (or Theodosia) was still our protagonist and her character arc continued to amaze me. She was complex, flawed, and relatable. I won’t beat the dead horse that is how much I found myself connecting with her character. What I will talk about are the rest of the characters and how much they added to the story. Thankfully the full cast helped give this story a much needed depth and fullness.

While my review does sound rather vague, I did that in the hopes it would peek your interest in reading this series if you have not already. But if you have and were on the fence about the second book, I hope I have pushed you to the side of the fence that causes you to pick this one up. I do not believe you will be disappointed.

About Laura:

Laura Sebastian was born and raised in South Florida (the Redlands and Key Largo) and has always loved telling stories–many apologies to her little brother who often got in trouble because of them. No copies of her first book, a Cinderella retelling about angels circa 2nd grade, remain. Thankfully.

After getting her BFA from Savannah College of Art and Design, she moved to New York City thinking that she would stay for a couple of years before going somewhere better suited for a small-town, sun-loving girl. Five years later, she’s still here and madly in love with it.

When Laura isn’t writing, she’s probably reading, baking cookies or cupcakes, buying more clothes than her overstuffed closet can fit, or forcing her lazy dog Neville to take a walk.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Instagram

Giveaway Details:

3 winners will receive a finished copy of LADY SMOKE, US Only.

Rafflecopter link:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/e2389ba2874/?

Tour Schedule:

Week One:

1/1/2019- To Be Read– Review

1/2/2019- A Dream Within A Dream– Review

1/3/2019- Here’s to Happy Endings– Review

1/4/2019- Random Bookish Banter– Review

Week Two:

1/7/2019- Tween 2 Teen Book Reviews– Review

1/8/2019- Jrsbookreviews– Review

1/9/2019- Omg Books and More Books– Review

1/10/2019- Fiction Fare– Review

1/11/2019- Du Livre– Review

Week Three:

1/14/2019- Loie Dunn– Review

1/15/2019- A Court of Coffee and Books– Review

1/16/2019- Paws and Paperbacks– Review

1/17/2019- A Gingerly Review– Review

1/18/2019- Lifestyle of Me– Review

Week Four:

1/21/2019- Paper Reader– Review

1/22/2019- Adventures and Reading– Review

1/23/2019- Popthebutterfly Reads– Review

1/24/2019- Adventures Thru Wonderland– Review

1/25/2019- YA Books Central– Interview

Week Five:

1/28/2019- Confessions of a YA Reader– Review

1/29/2019- Colorimetry– Interview

1/30/2019- Smada’s Book Smack– Review

1/31/2019- Kat’s Books– Review

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Analiese Rising by Brenda Drake Excerpt Tour

Excerpt: 

The classroom smells like a funeral home.

Hushed voices pulse over the pairs of students hunching over trays spaced across the counters. The odor of bodies fresh out of gym class mingles with the scent of formaldehyde.

Hair dampens at my temples. A crematory would be cooler.

Not many have finished their assignments. Only a few overachievers sit in the rows of empty desks on the other side of the room, their tasks completed, proud smiles on their faces.

Mrs. Cryer shuffles around the tables watching over us—a reaper waiting for lost souls, her bony finger pointing out errors. She shuffles around with purpose. She shuffles around without direction. Then she stops at our table, her eyes peering over reading glasses.

“Mr. Bove and Miss Jordan, you two are falling behind,” she says, a disapproving tsk in her voice. She only uses last names when she wants to emphasize her warning. “Best hurry before class ends.”

She continues shuffling around.

Biology is my least favorite class. Mrs. Cryer’s assignments are outdated. It’s her last year teaching, her retirement long overdue. Stern and direct, she’s not the sort of teacher I usually like, but I do. There’s an underlying kindness to Mrs. Cryer. A kindness hiding in her eyes, evident in her actions.

One of the things I like about my school: my brother, Dalton, is in the same grade. We’re not twins or anything. Actually, we’re cousins. His parents adopted me when mine were killed in a boating accident on Lake Como in Italy. I don’t remember them. I was two when that all went down.

The thing I hate about school: Dalton’s in my biology class.

“Come on, Ana.” Dalton slides the dissection tray closer to me. “I did all the setup. Just make the first cut.”

The little green body looks rubbery—almost fake—crucified to the tray with pins as it is. I push strands of dark hair from my face with a latex-gloved hand. I could’ve opted out of this barbaric ritual of separating body parts from an innocent frog.

Why did I even agree to this?

American Gods meets the Da Vinci Code in ANALIESE RISING (Entangled; 01/08/19), a suspense-filled novel by New York Times bestselling author Brenda Drake. This first book in a new fantasy series offers a new take on the paranormal romance genre—with a mythological spin. Gone are vampires and werewolves; in are descendants of the God of Death.

Brenda Drake is known for creating addictive, entertaining series with strong female characters (Library Jumpers and The Fated) and her fans will not be disappointed.

ABOUT ANALIESE RISING: When a stranger gives Analiese Jordan a list of names before he dies, the last thing she expects to see is her own on it. Not. Cool. Her search for answers leads to the man’s grandson, Marek, who has dangerous secrets of his own. Both are determined to unlock the mystery of the list.

But the truth is deadly. Analiese is a descendant of the God of Death, known as a Riser, with the power to raise the dead and control them. Finding out she has hidden powers? Cool. Finding out she turns corpses into killers? No, thank you.

Now the trail plants her and Marek in the middle of a war between gods who apparently want to raise an army of the Risen, and Analiese must figure out how to save the world—from herself.

ABOUT BRENDA DRAKE: 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 is 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).

Other blogs on the tour:

Dec. 27- https://agingerlyreview.wordpress.com (Excerpt 1)

http://www.velarisreads.wordpress.com (Excerpt 2)

Dec. 28- http://thelovelybooksbookblog.blogspot.com (Excerpt 3)

https://indecisiveopinions.blogspot.com (Excerpt 4)

Dec. 29- http://www.ohheybooks.com (Excerpt 5)

http://pagesbetween.blogspot.com (Excerpt 6)

Dec. 30- https://confessionsofayareader.wordpress.com/   (Excerpt 7)

http://chaptersthroughlife.blogspot.co.uk/?m=1 (Excerpt 8)

Dec. 31- http://www.travelsnreads.com (Excerpt 9)

Http://smadasbooksmack.blogspot.com (Excerpt 10)

Jan. 1- https://instagram.com/live.laugh.love.library (Excerpt 11)

http://booksandmakeup.blogspot.com (Excerpt 12)

Jan. 2- http://cantstopwontstopbooks.wordpress.com (Excerpt 13)

http://taylorfenner.blogspot.com  (Excerpt 14)

Jan. 3- https://carriesbookreviews.com/ (Excerpt 15)

http://omgreads.com/blog/ (Excerpt 16)

Jan. 4- http://adreamwithindream.blogspot.com (Excerpt 17)

https://bookishfriendsandfelinefancies.wordpress.com (Excerpt 18)

Jan. 5- https://booklovinmamas.net (Excerpt 19)

https://twirlingbookprincess.com/ (Excerpt 20)

Jan. 6-  http://www.literaryme.net/ (Excerpt 21)

http://www.kindlykatey.com (Excerpt 22)

Jan. 7- https://kristinsbooks.wordpress.com/?ref=spelling(Excerpt 23)

Waiting on Wednesday: Enchantee

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we share a book that we are eagerly anticipating!

This week’s pre-publication “can’t-wait-to-read” selection is:

Enchantee’ by Gita Trelease

Enchantée

From Goodreads:

Paris in 1789 is a labyrinth of twisted streets, filled with beggars, thieves, revolutionaries—and magicians…

When smallpox kills her parents, Camille Durbonne must find a way to provide for her frail, naive sister while managing her volatile brother. Relying on petty magic—la magie ordinaire—Camille painstakingly transforms scraps of metal into money to buy the food and medicine they need. But when the coins won’t hold their shape and her brother disappears with the family’s savings, Camille must pursue a richer, more dangerous mark: the glittering court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.

With dark magic forbidden by her mother, Camille transforms herself into the ‘Baroness de la Fontaine’ and is swept up into life at the Palace of Versailles, where aristocrats both fear and hunger for la magie. There, she gambles at cards, desperate to have enough to keep herself and her sister safe. Yet the longer she stays at court, the more difficult it becomes to reconcile her resentment of the nobles with the enchantments of Versailles. And when she returns to Paris, Camille meets a handsome young balloonist—who dares her to hope that love and liberty may both be possible.

But la magie has its costs. And when Camille loses control of her secrets, the game she’s playing turns deadly. Then revolution erupts, and she must choose—love or loyalty, democracy or aristocracy, freedom or magic—before Paris burns…

This sounds stunning and I cannot wait for it.

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Two Can Keep A Secret – ARC Review and Giveaway

About the Book:

Title: TWO CAN KEEP A SECRET 

Author: Karen McManus

Pub. Date: January 8, 2019

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Formats: Hardcover, eBook, Audiobook

Pages: 336

Find it: GoodreadsAmazonAudible,  B&NiBooksTBD

Echo Ridge is small-town America. Ellery’s never been there, but she’s heard all about it. Her aunt went missing there at age seventeen. And only five years ago, a homecoming queen put the town on the map when she was killed. Now Ellery has to move there to live with a grandmother she barely knows.

The town is picture-perfect, but it’s hiding secrets. And before school even begins for Ellery, someone’s declared open season on homecoming, promising to make it as dangerous as it was five years ago. Then, almost as if to prove it, another girl goes missing.

Ellery knows all about secrets. Her mother has them; her grandmother does too. And the longer she’s in Echo Ridge, the clearer it becomes that everyone there is hiding something. The thing is, secrets are dangerous–and most people aren’t good at keeping them. Which is why in Echo Ridge, it’s safest to keep your secrets to yourself.

Review:

HO

LEE

SCHNIKES

McManus’ new thriller was just as good as I hoped it would be. It was a fast-paced, action packed novel that kept me turning pages long past my bedtime.

I loved reading about Ellery and Ezra, twin siblings, and how they tried to adjust to living a small town way of life. These twins have not had an easy life: Their mom was court ordered into rehab, not growing up with a father, barely knowing anything about their family, and forced to accept the reality that they may always just scrape by. Now, forced to live with their only known living relative – their Grandmother – Ellery and Ezra will soon be thrust into something much bigger than they could ever realize. They always knew their mom’s twin sister disappeared decades ago and then years later their mom’s babysitter’s daughter was murdered. Whatever happened to their missing aunt and the babysitter’s daughter will soon be revealed and it is more than anyone could have imagined.

I know I did not describe that very well but let me tell you – it is an edge of your seat, double bolt your doors, and check your locks kind of read. I could not get enough of this once I started. Sure, I had my guesses of who the murderer could have been but I’m not a detective in real life so I could only speculate. Or, perhaps, I wanted to be surprised. Either way, this did not disappoint. The characters were flawed, complex, and relatable. I especially enjoyed how Ellery claimed to be good at solving mysteries but couldn’t figure this one out. HA. Well done, McManus.

I am not going to give anymore away. I urge you to read this. McManus now has a forever reader right here. I will read whatever she publishes, even if it is her grocery list. This author can write and she has won me over. If you are on the fence about this, this is me pushing you to read it. You won’t be disappointed!

About Karen:

As a kid I used to write books when I was supposed to be playing outside, and not much has changed. I’m a marketing and communications professional who also writes Young Adult contemporary and fantasy fiction in Cambridge, MA.

When not writing or working I love to travel, and along with my nine-year old son I’ve ridden horses in Colombia and bicycles through Paris. A member of SCBWI, I hold a bachelor’s degree in English from the College of the Holy Cross and a master’s degree in Journalism from Northeastern University. Which I have never, ever used professionally.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Instagram

Giveaway Details:

3 winners will receive a finished copy of TWO CAN KEEP A SECRET, US Only.

Rafflecopter link:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/e2389ba2873/?

Tour Schedule:

Week One:

1/1/2019- Lifestyle of Me– Review

1/2/2019- Paper Reader– Review

1/3/2019- Adventures Thru Wonderland– Review

1/4/2019- Here’s to Happy Endings– Review

Week Two:

1/7/2019- Pink Polka Dot Books– Review

1/8/2019- Do You Dog-ear?– Review

1/9/2019- Adventures and Reading– Review

1/10/2019- The Phantom Paragrapher– Review

1/11/2019- Book Dragon Lair– Review

Week Three:

1/14/2019- A Gingerly Review– Review

1/15/2019- Confessions of a YA Reader– Review

1/16/2019- Sweet Southern Home– Review

1/17/2019- Simply Daniel Radcliffe– Review

1/18/2019- The Hermit Librarian– Review

Week Four:

1/21/2019- Smada’s Book Smack– Review

1/22/2019- Owl always Be Reading– Review

1/23/2019- BookHounds YA– Review

1/24/2019- Popthebutterfly Reads– Review

1/25/2019- Eli to the nth– Review

Week Five:

1/28/2019- The Clever Reader– Review

1/29/2019- All the Ups and Downs– Review

1/30/2019- Two Points of Interest– Review

1/31/2019- EatingbetweenthelinesINC– Review

Top Ten Tuesday: New To Me Authors I Read In 2018

TTT

  Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Every week they have a different theme for bloggers to post their top tens about, and this week I’m listing…          

New To Me Authors I Read In 2018

Melissa Landers

Alienated (Alienated, #1)

Elizabeth Acevedo

The Poet X

Maurene Goo

The Way You Make Me Feel

S.E. Hinton

The Outsiders

Siobhan Vivian

Stay Sweet

Lily Anderson

Undead Girl Gang

Laurie Halse Anderson

Speak: The Graphic Novel

Sarah J Maas

Catwoman: Soulstealer (DC Icons, #3)

Erin Watt

One Small Thing

Amy Spalding

The Summer of Jordi Perez (And the Best Burger in Los Angeles)

What are some of the New To You Authors you read in 2018?

Review: Second Chance Summer

Second Chance Summer

I know I am late to the game with this book but better late than never, right? I finally gave this a chance and here is my main takeaway: this is a very heavy book and holy crap it is a long story. It was almost offensively long. I bet if you cut 200 pages out it would have been just as good. I cannot figure out why a contemporary book needed to be nearly 500 pages. I will try like the dickens to not beat that topic into the ground but it is very hard to ignore.

Matson is one of my all time favorite authors and I will forever read whatever she publishes. That being said, this probably will not one of her stories that I highly recommend to others or reread. I liked the characters but wasn’t in love with them. They were all forgettable, flat, and boring. The plot was heavy and hard to get through at times. The The one thing that was over the top amazing was the world building. The entire story was set in a beautiful remote forest/summer camp setting. I often felt as if I was in the story along with the characters. That being said, it was the most detailed and long winded part of the story. The trees were described in extensive detail to the point it took away from the main point of the story.

There probably was no real way to have a developed character arc as the MC was simply dealing with the fact that her dad was dying of cancer and this was their last summer together. Let’s be honest, there was only so much an author could do with that. I lost a parent to cancer so I know how tough it is in real life so I ended up keeping an arm’s length from this story. I’m not say Matson did a bad job of portraying a daughter losing her parent, I’m saying there is a time and place for that type of story and it might not have been with a romance wrapped around it. That is what made the story so confusing – was I supposed to focus on the romance or the parent? Between you and me, the two topics should not have been mixed.

I will not ever be upset that I read this one but as I mentioned I probably won’t pick it back up. There were huge chunks that went on for far too long. I stand by my comment that about 200 pages could have (should have?) been cut. They were slow, pointless, and downright boring. I will still read everything Matson writes and I’m glad I can finally mark this off of my long TBR list.

Books Left Unread #153

Wallpaper-Books

Books Left Unread

Welcome to my blog post where I talk about the books I have been meaning to read, but just have not yet. You know what I am talking about – the books that have remained unread for various reasons yet when you see them you think, “You know, I really need to read that.” Instead you get distracted by another book, series, or something in your TBR pile. It happens to the best of us. I want to spotlight those books in the hope that I can persuade myself to move them up on my TBR list.

This week’s post is dedicated to:

Just Visiting by Dahlia Adler

Just Visiting

This sounds right up my alley but I cannot figure out why I haven’t started this yet. 😦

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