Friday, September 30, 2016

Title: A Shadow Bright and Burning
Author: Jessica Cluess
Series: Kingdom on Fire, book #1
Publisher: Random House BFYR
Publication Date: September 20, 2016
Source: ARC received from publisher
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

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I am Henrietta Howel. The first female sorcerer. The prophesied one. Or am I?

Henrietta Howel can burst into flames. When she is brought to London to train with Her Majesty's sorcerers, she meets her fellow sorcerer trainees, young men eager to test her powers and her heart. One will challenge her. One will fight for her. One will betray her. As Henrietta discovers the secrets hiding behind the glamour of sorcerer life, she begins to doubt that she's the true prophesied one. With battle looming, how much will she risk to save the city--and the one she loves?

"I am Henrietta Howel. The first female sorcerer. The prophesied one. Or am I?" I love that line from the summary because this book took the chosen one trope and turned it on its head and it was just so clever and unexpected...and fun.

A Shadow Bright and Burning was a very strong start to what is sure to be a very fun and magical series. The MC is headstrong, tenacious, and more than a little impulsive. And the boys -- yes, plural -- are all so droolworthy...I'm going to wait until AT LEAST the next book before I pass judgment on them. :P Super intriguing baddies and I have THEORIES and the wait for book two is going to be painful.

The sheer volume of male companions in this book was a little daunting at first, but as the summary suggests, each has his place and a role to play and you can weed out who's going to be a potential love interest pretty early on and who is not. I'm still pulling for the Mr. Darcy-like character, though he honestly didn't give me as much to work with in this first book as I'd have liked. But that's not to say that Henrietta doesn't see her fair share of romance from other would-be suitors. *wink-wink*

I was captivated by this story from the first chapter, and that has nothing to do with Henrietta's romantic prospects, fun as they might be. No, I'm here for the magic. And, sure, Henrietta might not be the prophesied one, but she still has powers of her own. She finds someone to train her with these powers, and I've got to admit, that guy was the one who intrigued me the most. I love characters that can surprise me while challenging other characters in the story.

I think what I loved best about this book is how it challenges everything you think you know. Not just the Chosen One prophecy, but bad guys are good guys and good guys are bad guys and no one -- I mean, no one -- is who you think they are. I'm so very excited to see where the author takes this story from here.


GIF it to me straight:

About the author:

Clan Clarion 13. Rep'd by @byobrooks. My YA fantasy A SHADOW BRIGHT AND BURNING is out 09/20/16 from @randomhousekids! Bring me all your Kylux fan art.

Find Jessica:

Twitter | Goodreads

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Hey, bookies! I'm helping Fierce Reads celebrate the days until #Heartless by sharing the #HeartlessCountdown poster below -- you can download a copy here! -- and my review of this epic retelling/origin story from the wondrous Marissa Meyer:

Join the #HeartlessCountdown and check out all 50 daily challenges from @FierceReads! To participate in today's challenge, just share a picture of the #HeartlessCountdown poster (linked above) in your town on Twitter or Instagram using #HeartlessCountdown and #Sweepstakes and you'll be entered to win a special edition advance copy of Heartless and MORE every single day.

Now, on to my review...

Title: Heartless
Author: Marissa Meyer
Series: stand-alone
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication Date: November 8, 2016
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Add to Goodreads
Long before she was the terror of Wonderland — the infamous Queen of Hearts — she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.

Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the yet-unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend and supply the Kingdom of Hearts with delectable pastries and confections. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next Queen.

At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the king's marriage proposal, she meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship.

Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

Ah, this wonderful, dreamy little book. Anyone who's read Alice in Wonderland knows the Queen of Hearts to be a ruthless monarch, who ruled the land with frequent taunts of "Off with his head!" So, to say that I went into this origin story with some trepidation about the ending would be a major understatement. But I'm a long-time fan of Marissa Meyer's work, and I knew she would do Catherine's character proud.

Meyer told Queen Levana's -- from The Lunar Chronicles -- origin story in Fairest, but that lady was cuckoo before she even got started. Catherine, however, is a hopeful, somewhat naive girl whose optimism knows no limits, other than those that society would place upon her. And yet, with the possibility of all of her choices being taken from her, it's easy to see how she might become the Queen of Hearts we know and despise. I love that one of the hashtags for this story is #DefyDestiny because that's exactly what I was hoping Catherine would do as the story progressed. But if the King and her parents have their way, Cath's destiny is to wed the King and become the Queen of Hearts.

Even before she meets Jest, Cath has reservations about being queen. She just wants to open a bakery and marry someone she loves and lead a simple life. But Cath is the daughter of a Marquess and the kingdom expects far greater things from a lady. Much greater than falling for the Court Joker, for example. Jest is enigmatic and charasmatic, and the attraction between him and Catherine is undeniable. As undeniable as it is foolish, considering she's being courted by the King. To be honest, this scenario reminded me a lot of Evil Queen Regina's plight on Once Upon a Time: to be in love with a lowly servant-type fellow when her mother has much bigger plans for her future, namely to be Queen. And just as I found myself empathizing with Regina on the show, I feel much the same way toward Catherine and the obvious chemistry she has with Jest.

Much as the romance reminded me of OUAT, the story itself reminded me of every foray I've ever made into Wonderland. The whimsy, the dream-like quality, the unforgettable characters -- all are present and accounted for, and yet they are still undoubtedly Meyer's creations. I loved seeing how she tied certain aspects from the original tale into her story. Some instances had me fascinated, while others had me saying, "Oh, OH...I get it now!" It was uncanny how familiar this story felt again in such capable hands.

I must say, I've loved each and every word I've read of Marissa Meyer's, but I think Heartless is my new favorite story. Unlike in The Lunar Chronicles where the author took beloved characters and gave them new life in a new world, Heartless just felt like a fairy tale...not a reimagining like TLC but a continuation or precursor to an old favorite. I know that this is supposed to be a stand-alone, but Meyer's vivid descriptions and gorgeous words did nothing to satiate my longing for more Wonderland encounters. I already can't wait to get this one on audio, too, so I can experience the wonder of it all over again!



GIF it to me straight:

About the author:

Marissa Meyer lives in Tacoma, Washington, with her husband, twin daughters, and three cats. She’s a fan of most things geeky (Sailor Moon, Firefly, color-coordinating her bookshelf . . .), and has been in love with fairy tales since she was given a small book of them when she was a child. She may or may not be a cyborg.

Find Marissa:

Website | Twitter | FacebookGoodreads | Pinterest

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

{WOW} THE LOVE INTEREST by Cale Dietrich

Wednesday, September 28, 2016 with 2 comments

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's WoW selection is...

's Pick:

Title: The Love Interest
Author: Cale Dietrich
Series: n/a
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication Date: May 16, 2017

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There is a secret organization that cultivates teenage spies. The agents are called Love Interests because getting close to people destined for great power means getting valuable secrets.

Caden is a Nice: The boy next door, sculpted to physical perfection. Dylan is a Bad: The brooding, dark-souled guy, and dangerously handsome. The girl they are competing for is important to the organization, and each boy will pursue her. Will she choose a Nice or the Bad?

Both Caden and Dylan are living in the outside world for the first time. They are well-trained and at the top of their games. They have to be – whoever the girl doesn’t choose will die.

What the boys don’t expect are feelings that are outside of their training. Feelings that could kill them both.

First, awesome cover for the win! Looks very spy novel to me and I am in love! Second, that premise has me hook, line, and sinker! Wantwantwant!!!

What are you desperately waiting for this Wednesday? Let us know in the comments or share a link to your own WoW post!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

{TTT} Books I Gotta Read This Fall

Tuesday, September 27, 2016 with 6 comments

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the awesome ladies at The Broke and the Bookish. Apparently, they are overly fond of list-making and love to share their bookish lists with the rest of us book nerds.  =) We're game.

This week's topic is  Books On My Fall TBR List:

Jen's Picks:

Gemina has been on my TBR pile for far too long. I honestly might wait for the audio because the previous book was so good in that format, but either way, I am sooo freaking excited for it. But maybe my most anticipated - aside from Traitor to the Throne which I'll be reading any day now (and that's why it's not listed here) - is The Bear and the Nightingale. I love Russian folklore! I've got a good looking pile of reads this fall, if I do say so myself. Oh, and Crooked Kingdom isn't listed either because I'm already reading it. :D

What books are on your fall TBR pile?

Monday, September 26, 2016

Love in the Time of Gelato

Monday, September 26, 2016 with No comments
Title: Love & Gelato
Author: Jenna Evans Welch
Narrator(s): Rebekkah Ross
Series: stand-alone
Length: 8 hrs 17 mins
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Publication Date: August 16, 2016
Source: audiobook & galley received from publisher
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

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“I made the wrong choice.”

Lina is spending the summer in Tuscany, but she isn’t in the mood for Italy’s famous sunshine and fairy-tale landscape. She’s only there because it was her mother’s dying wish that she get to know her father. But what kind of father isn’t around for sixteen years? All Lina wants to do is get back home.

But then she is given a journal that her mom had kept when she lived in Italy. Suddenly Lina’s uncovering a magical world of secret romances, art, and hidden bakeries. A world that inspires Lina, along with the ever-so-charming Ren, to follow in her mother’s footsteps and unearth a secret that has been kept for far too long. It’s a secret that will change everything she knew about her mother, her father—and even herself.

People come to Italy for love and gelato, someone tells her, but sometimes they discover much more.

If I'd reviewed this immediately after I finished the audiobook, I would have rated it a bit higher. I was still riding the I feel like I've just been to Italy and fallen in love high at that point and had all the heart eyes for this story. But it's been a few weeks now, and while I still appreciate how adorable the story was, I've realized there were a few things that bothered me about it.

First, the things I enjoyed:

  • The setting - I've never been to Italy, but after reading this book, I feel like I have been. It's not the first time I've felt that way after reading a novel, but it's still pretty significant when a book can basically transport you to a place with its vivid descriptions.
  • Howard & Lina's relationship - It may have been a stilted thing of forced parenthood and reluctant teenager at first, but it blossomed into something adorable.
  • The food - Gelato, secret bakeries, a step-in dad who can cook. Yes to all of the above.
  • Ren - Charming, winsome, oh-so-helpful Ren.
  • The journal - Who here among us doesn't think that knowing their parents when they were younger would help us understand them better now? I'm not saying I'd want to read everything from my mom's journal in those days, but I don't think our bond would suffer if we shared some experiences. Also, I think it would be a really beautiful thing to have when she's no longer with me.
  • The story of grief and loss - Lina is attempting to move on, but it's obvious how hard she's taking the loss of her mother when little things trigger memories or remind her of her mother.
  • The mystery - Lina trying to figure out why her mother chose the path she did and why she wanted Lina to know that she "made the wrong choice."
And now a few things that left me dissatisfied:

  • The mystery - Yes, I placed this in my likes. But I also disliked how obvious certain aspects of it were.
  • The overall predictability - So, actually, I guess I just didn't like the general lack of surprise I got from the book, not just how the mystery played out.
  • The love square - Mostly there is a central romance with two other characters just being strung along to add tension to the story. I don't dislike love triangles (or squares) on principle alone, but I'm not a fan when they're this intentional.

I mostly enjoyed this charming, adorable little story. And I think the audiobook narration really aided in my enjoyment because once I started listening, I did not want to stop. I've only listened to Rebekkah Ross' narration on a couple of titles previously, but I definitely think she's suited to voice characters like the capricious, impulsive Lina.

Love & Gelato definitely made me want to venture to Italy, eat some gelato, and fall in love like so many before me. What I expected to be a completely fluffy story turned out to be a gentle tale of loss and love. I definitely look forward to reading more from this author...even if she doesn't incorporate gelato into the story. :P

GIF it to me straight:

About the author:

Jenna Evans Welch spent her high school years in Florence, Italy, where she drove a scooter, danced in fountains, and ate entirely too much gelato. She now lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with her husband and young son.

Find Jenna:

WebsiteTwitter | Goodreads | Instagram | Facebook

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Okay, so since some people over on #booksfortrade didn't want to read the post first and didn't understand why I was asking so much for shipping or why I preferred not to trade unless it was for something I really want, I'll just put this here again before showing what's left:

As I said in a previous Weekend Update post:
Be on the lookout for a new trade post soon...a different kind of post, too. I know there's been a lot of drama over on the #booksfortrade tag lately, but I still want to complete my collections and help some others along the way. I've thought about posting something regarding all the drama, but what I want to say most is that just because that's what you see on the tag doesn't mean that there isn't beauty happening behind the scenes. I've helped more than a couple people with their collections without asking for anything in return...except maybe some good karma. :) I just wish people focused on that aspect more...
So, here's the deal, guys. I have a ton of books that I just don't plan on ever re-reading, and if Katie ever shows a desire to read them, well, we have access to the capital's library and she has a Kindle, so we're square. But I don't want to pack them all up and haul them all the way to Half Price Books -- which is an hour away from my house -- only to get some paltry amount for the lot of them, which I'd likely then turn around and spend on more books. Or Funkos.

Which is not an altogether bad idea, but there is another option: put these books into the hands of people who really want them. People who possibly collect them.

For the cost of shipping, of course. (Or trade. I'm always open to a trade, if it's mutually beneficial, but I already have too many books -- obviously -- to just trade for any old thing.) I paid for a lot of these books, so it's only fair that I not have to come out of pocket to ship a free book to someone else, right? But -- and this is a big but -- I ship US Priority Mail, which only takes 2-3 days, comes with tracking and picks up straight from my office so I don't even have to make a special trip to the P.O. But the bubble mailer costs around $7 to ship and it only goes up from there, depending on how many books a recipient is requesting. So, if you find that you want several, I can ship a medium size box, which holds around 7-8 books for $13.45. And I'd require payment via PayPal upfront so that I can use those funds to immediately pay for shipping and send the package out ASAP. I mean, I want these books out of my house, stat.

Before I show you what I have, I wanted to share my own wishlists. Maybe we can make some magic happen and make everyone happy. I'm going to be optimistic about this and pretend that I'm not about to be inundated with requests. And I feel like I shouldn't have to say this, but I do reserve the right to turn down any trade...or to request a picture of your collection so I can see the pretties. =) Or if you're getting greedy with the freebies, I'll put the kibosh on this. Also, I really want these to go to collectors, first and foremost, so if several people request and I see that one is a big-time collector of a series, they get first dibs. My books, my call.

First, my unicorn wishlist(s). You know...the titles you'd give your left kidney for. You only need one, right? I will only trade items from the picture to the right for these items or ARCs with similar release dates, except for swag items. (If you have one of my swag wishlist items, let me know what you're looking for and I'll see if I have it.) Also? That Divergent ARC? I will only trade for either the TOG ARC, TTTT SDCC ARC, Caraval (UK) ARC, Wintersong ARC, or TTTT (UK) ARC. But honestly, I'd just really like it to go to a hard-core collector...and I already have one in mind. ;0)

The Unicorns

ARC of Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
ARC of Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen
ARC of On the Fence by Kasie West
ARC of Rebel Angels by Libba Bray
ARC of Asunder by Jodi Meadows

The New & Future Releases (some may not be available yet)
ARC of Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton
ARC of Caraval by Stephanie Garber (UK ARC)
ARC of Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones
ARC of Hunted by Meagan Spooner
ARC of Nevernight by Jay Kristoff
ARC of Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton (UK ARC)

Admit One bookmark/ticket for Caraval by Stephanie Garber
The Raven Cycle book hugger illustrated by Maggie Stiefvater
Sampler + buttons of Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
Crooked Kingdom poster by Leigh Bardugo

Other than that, please note that I usually prefer to trade like for like (meaning ARC for ARC, HC for HC, PB for PB), though there always exceptions to the rule. The pictures below start with newer and unreleased ARCs, then move to older ARCs and then on to finished copies.

My full wishlists can be found here and here (both Goodreads) or together here (2nd tab on spreadsheet).

I'll be adding these to the #booksfortrade tag later in the day, but I hoped to ease myself back into this. Also, I'm re-upping on supplies so I can send out the books next week. I'm ready to have my spare bedroom back! Especially since I need to get it ready for holiday visitors soon!

So, if you see something you want, email me at mrsjbruce @ gmail dot com or tweet me @starryeyedjen. Leaving a comment on this post is probably the worst way to broker a trade, just sayin'. And if you have something from my wishlist but don't see anything here, hit me up because I have other books I might be willing to part with for the right trade. =)

Happy trading!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

So, since my end-of-the-week post isn't just about what I got in my mailbox or on my Kindle each week -- though that is a big part of it, I won't lie -- I decided to change up the title and intro a bit.  I might tweak the format a bit over time, but for the most part, it'll contain the same stuff: stuff I got, stuff I did, and stuff that's coming up on the blog.  Plus, I get to use the awesome GIF you see here and blow kisses to all the people who sent me lovely books and bookish things.  Oh, and I've started linking up to Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews and Sunday Post hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer since I'm not using a specific meme title anymore.

Well, for the first weekend of fall, it sure doesn't feel very fall-like here in North Texas. We did get a slight cold-front, though, so that's kinda nice. Highs in the lower 90s instead of the upper 90s, lol. It was supposed to rain this weekend, which I was looking forward to, but now they've taken that out of the forecast, too. :*(

If my allergies weren't bothering me so much right now, I'd still want to be outside, despite the heat. I just love reading outdoors, and I have SO many books to catch up on. I'm thinking I'm going to have to take a break around the holidays just to have a chance at reading them all.

Anyway, here's what I scored this week...

From Publishers/For Review:

Isn't Beast's cover SO very pretty? And I already have a copy of How to Break a Boy - which I'm very interested in - so look for that one in a giveaway or trade pile soon. ;) I hadn't heard of Definitions of Indefinable Things, but after reading the cover copy, I am really looking forward to it.


OMG YOU GUYS!!! Because of the post linked to in the tweet below, I now have several of my unicorn items for my collection: Throne of Glass ARC, Strange the Dreamer sampler and buttons, and The Raven Cycle book hugger. Plus, finished copies of The Beauty of Darkness and The Unexpected Everything. People can harp on #booksfortrade all they want, but it's effective. :D And you shouldn't let a few bad apples ruin it for you.


We recently discovered that one of Katie's friends lives a couple of houses down from us -- we've only lived here a year, lol -- and his mom is a book nerd with shelves of books and bookish items lining her living room walls, too! It's so nice to finally have a bookish friend IRL. And to top it off, she surprised me with this decal the last time they had a playdate. So flipping cute!


The Hating GameArchivist Wasp

OMFG, The Hating Game was seriously adorable. Like, I never wanted it to end it was just so cute! And the narrator was perfection. She narrates a lot of YA, so she was perfect for lovely, little Lucy. :D :D :D And I downloaded Archivist Wasp on a whim. I hope it's as good as it is different.


Graffiti MoonChimeA Lady by Midnight (Spindle Cove, #3)Any Duchess Will Do (Spindle Cove, #4)Lord Dashwood Missed Out (Spindle Cove, #4.5)

The first two are re-listens of favorites that were in need of revisiting. :) And just when I think I'm done with regency romance, Tessa Dare pulls me back in. :D

So, that's my haul. =) What fabulous bookmail did you get this week?

The Week in Review:


  • I have plenty of reviews to write, but I just wasn't feeling it this week. I'll definitely have some next week, though. ;0)

Current Giveaways:

Check back soon!

Promotional/Discussion Posts:

Currently Reading:

HeartlessYep, still reading this, but I am in lurve! So magical and dream-like and it just might be my new favorite Marissa Meyer novel. Seriously.

Currently Listening:

Rebel of the Sands (Rebel of the Sands, #1)I'm in between listens, but I think I'm going to re-listen to this one next because REASONS. !!! :D

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