Throne of Glass Read Along

Discuss Chapters 1-28 for 2015 TBR Pile Challenge

The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski (Review)

"unlike any book I've read before"

The Bodies We Wear by Jeyn Roberts (Review)

"as things normally go, it is in the darkest moments where we see some sort of light."

Accordance by Shelly Crane (Review)

"Accordance was a great second installment to one of my all-time favorite series!"

From Ashes by Molly McAdams (Review)

"The romance was amazing, I became so invested in the characters, and the story held me in its grasp from beginning to end."

The Queen of Zombie Hearts by Gena Showalter (Review)

"white-hot romance, amazing characters"

Of Monsters and Madness by Jessica Verday (Review)

"The world was spectacularly built ..."

Blood-Drenched Beard by Daniel Galera (Review)

"a bit too confusing and foreign for me to fully enjoy"

Review + #Giveaway: Polaroid Cube + Accessories

"a chance to win not only the Cube Cam itself, but 5 custom designed accessories that will make using the Cube 10000x more fun"

Monday, April 20, 2015

Sutton Shields (Guest Post + Giveaway)
Click the banner to go to the full schedule for Indie Girl April!

I have worked with Sutton on many occassions.  She is amazing and one of the
most sweet and fun people I know.  Katrina is a character that you hate to love
and I hope that you enjoy this post! Don't forget to enter the giveaway at the end
of the post :)

Guest Post

Meet The Merbitch

It’s no secret I’m a mama bear to my characters. Due to a seemingly endless stint as a single gal—seriously, my non-existent love life has out-dried the dreaded dating ‘dry spell’—my maternal need found its outlet in my characters, turning them into ink and paper babies. Well, except for Jex—the naughty, Aussie sorta-angel. He would be more like a bad boy book boyfriend. That’s totally normal, right? Maybe don’t answer that.

Good or bad, naughty or nice, these characters are my family; I reckon that’s true of all writers. In fact, some characters have been in my life for many years.

One such character is Katrina, the resident merbitch of The Merworld Water Wars series. Given her level of awfulness, it might surprise you to know that she wasn’t always a merbitch.

Soon after starting at a brand new school, in a brand new state, in a brand new part of the country, I experienced my first taste of bullying. It was on the really ugly side of rancid. Mom, like all moms, channeled her inner Mary Poppins and somehow knew what was going on before I had the chance to tell her (or sob in her arms).

One day, I came home from hell…er…school to find a white box sitting on my bed. Inside was a wood carving of a mermaid, my very favorite supernatural being. She had a purple fin, black hair, red lipstick, and carried a red comb and mirror. To those who’ve read my crazy books: Sound familiar? I named her Katrina. This was years before Hurricane Katrina destroyed a beloved part of the country that was like my family’s backyard.

The presence of this little mermaid did exactly what Mom had hoped: I was acting like myself again—happy and silly. Mom told me she found Katrina in a little shop in town. She thought Katrina looked “tough” and might help me be a little stronger. We hung her in my bathroom so I could see her every morning before heading to school to face whatever they had in store.

So, without further ado, please meet the first Katrina and the inspiration for Katrina Zale:

She’s pretty old now. Her paint is fading in places and there are some dents and chips. She even lost her comb somewhere along the way, but she never lost that mer-meanie look, at least that’s what I called it as a kid. Still, I always figured she watched over me, stupid as it sounds.

The bullying may not have stopped over the years, but I eventually grew more resilient, and I credit the start of that resiliency to my mom and little Katrina.

I’m not sure why on earth I turned something that helped me into a bullying baddie character. Maybe I always kept some subconscious connection between the carving and bullying that I never could quite let go (I hear ya, Elsa, I hear ya). Or maybe in some roundabout way, I did it because I knew Marina (my main character and kind of my paper mini-me) could handle Katrina the bully. Or maybe I owe wood-carving-Katrina an apology. Who knows? Whatever the reason, I’m sure Freud or Jung or Frasier Crane would have a field day.

Though the mer-meanie became the merbitch, it’s only on paper—after all, Katrina the wood carving has stayed with me all these years and still hovers nearby to this day.

About Sutton

I'm a dreamer, believer in the unbelievable, and author of The Merworld Water Wars series: FINNED (Wave One), OVERFALLS (Wave Two), and RIFTED (Wave Three), with two more 'waves' to follow.

Hook (pun totally intended): "Take a fish-phobic girl, divide her by one hot merman, add a splash of his crazy ex-merbitch, and you get one stinky school year."

I'm a handbag-loving gal who LOVES to watch sports--football, baseball, basketball, NASCAR, you name it. I take being a fan very seriously. ;)

One thing I love most is trying to make people smile, even if it means making a fool out of myself (trust me, my inner idiot is bound to make multiple appearances).

I have a completely irrational fear of grasshoppers, worry that piranha may secretly lurk in lakes, and try to find the bright side in everything, even if I annoy myself doing so.

The Merworld Water Wars

Take a fish-phobic girl, divide her by one hot merman, add a splash of his crazy ex-merbitch, and you get one stinky school year.

Sixteen-year-old Marina Valentine is a rule-stretcher in an uptight Texas seaside town. She’s hormonally challenged, curious to a fault, hates fish, and has a dating resume that makes the queen look like a slut. It’s not that guys don’t ask her out. They do. She just has an unfortunate reaction to dating—uncontrollable gags. It’s not exactly a turn on.

One by one, her oddball friends start disappearing—much to the joy of the snobby high school royals—and Marina fears she is a walking bull’s eye. Inquiries into their disappearances lead to startling, gag-worthy discoveries. Toss in an increasingly inconvenient attraction to one of the royals—who holds the key to solving the mystery…in his fin—and it’s an anti-fish girl’s worst nightmare come true. Soon, Marina finds herself at the center of a looming underwater war that’s really going to play games with her love life.

As time closes in—and the Merpeople officially come out of the ocean—Marina must choose between the lives of her friends, the future of an underwater utopia, and the life of her first love. There’s just one problem. Where does a love-shy, fish-phobic, non-mergirl even begin…especially when her enemy may be the one person she trusted above everyone else?
Buy it:

Unlike most high school seniors, Marina Valentine isn’t sweating college (she’s outlawed from even applying), the prom (she has her dream date…possibly), or graduation (though surviving to rock the ill-fitting gown is iffy). No, she’s a little preoccupied with succeeding as a walking myth post-graduation. So, when Marina awakens as the one and only Siren Savior, she thinks the tide is about to turn on the merbitch’s mer-psycho family. Unfortunately, she has issues with her flighty Savior powers, and the timing couldn’t be worse. For with the arrival of a feared foe, comes the promise of a disastrous year…and that’s an understatement.

For years, mythological beings have awaited the fulfillment of a mysterious prophecy involving Merpeople, Normals, an epic clash, and a wish that could forever change one group’s destiny. But the real trouble begins when an assassin known as The Dealer starts sending her cryptic messages written on potentially lethal playing cards.

The Dealer makes one thing very clear: someone Marina loves will die. Now, she must find The Dealer before he (or she) finds his victim. But with everyone either a suspect or a target, how will Marina be able to uncover the truth before time runs out?

Not even the Siren Savior in all her power can prepare for the devastating answers.

Buy it:

Someone wicked walks among them.

Heartbreak usually requires time to heal. For Marina Valentine, however, time has other plans: like sticking her with a shiny, stubborn accessory, sending her on a surprising date with someone other than Troy Tombolo, and introducing her lips to kisses that could save or destroy everything and everyone.

Marina and the rest of the Mer-Nor gang must find a way to push through the grief caused by The Dealer, for their next mission will take them on a dangerous, scandal-filled journey that may very well be the most significant to date: hunt down the evidence they need to prove once and for all that the tyrannical King Zale breached the water pact.

But with the shocking identity of The Dealer and overwhelming guilt weighing heavily on her, Marina struggles with frightening emotional urges and begins to question whether she is truly strong enough to succeed as the all-important Siren Savior.

Marina is in more danger than ever before—even inside the familiar study with her trusted friends—because unbeknownst to her, someone has been lurking about, waiting for the chance to undo everything the Mer-Nor gang has achieved…and with the Siren Savior’s doubt growing, that person’s chance has finally arrived.

Buy it:


Thanks to Sutton I get to give one of you amazing readers
a chance to not only meet Katrina but ALL of Sutton's 
epic characters.  This is for US addresses only...

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Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley (Review)

Young Adult, Fantasy, Mythology
Publication.Date  April 28th 2015
Published By:  Harper Collins
AuthorMaria Dahvana Headley

Magonia on Goodreads
My review copy:Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Where to get:

Neil Gaiman’s Stardust meets John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars in this groundbreaking fantasy about a girl caught between two worlds…two races…and two destinies.

Aza Ray is drowning in thin air. 

Since she was a baby, Aza has suffered from a mysterious lung disease that makes it ever harder for her to breathe, to speak—to live. 

So when Aza catches a glimpse of a ship in the sky, her family chalks it up to a cruel side effect of her medication. But Aza doesn’t think this is a hallucination. She can hear someone on the ship calling her name.

Only her best friend, Jason, listens. Jason, who’s always been there. Jason, for whom she might have more-than-friendly feelings. But before Aza can consider that thrilling idea, something goes terribly wrong. Aza is lost to our world—and found, by another. Magonia. 

Above the clouds, in a land of trading ships, Aza is not the weak and dying thing she was. In Magonia, she can breathe for the first time. Better, she has immense power—and as she navigates her new life, she discovers that war is coming. Magonia and Earth are on the cusp of a reckoning. And in Aza’s hands lies the fate of the whole of humanity—including the boy who loves her. Where do her loyalties lie? 

Maria Dahvana Headley's soaring YA debut is a fiercely intelligent, multilayered fantasy rich with symbolism and steeped in allegory. Her John Green–meets–Neil Gaiman approach to character development and world building will draw readers of all genres, who will come for the high-concept journey through the sky and stay for the authentic, confused, questioning teen voices. Jason and Aza’s fight to find each other somewhere between sky and earth is the perfect anchor for Headley’s gorgeous, wildly vivid descriptions of life in Magonia.


For the first time in my entire life, I have power. More than power. I feel like I belong. Like this is my ship.
Like this is my country.
Like this is my destiny.
Be she alive or be she dead, I'll grind her bones to make my bread, fee, fie, foe, fum, and, no, that doesn't help me, but it's what I mutter when I'm at a loss these days, even though I didn't climb a beanstalk to get up here. Most of my tests have involved infliction of medium amounts of pain. Vital signs, modified. Each of my experiments yields the same result: alive. Alive and presumably sane, yet completely and utterly messed up.
I'm a fucking mess of rattling pi and things I never said.
I spent the last ten years talking. Why I couldn't say any of the right words, I don't know.
I'm dark matter. The universe inside me is full of something, and science can't even shine a light on it. I feel like I'm mostly made of mysteries.

     Magonia is, in many ways, an enchanting and highly imaginative novel, full of breathtakingly original creatures and shiny new concepts. For the most part, it's an intense and tightly woven page-turner, and though not quite perfect in execution of certain aspects of the story and somewhat lacking in the character-development department, it is most definitely a fascinating, beautifully written and refreshingly unique YA fantasy novel

     I do find the blurb very misleading, though. I would like to point out the obvious: not every book with a character suffering for some kind of illness should automatically be compared to The Fault In Our Stars (in a similar way not every paranormal story is automatically Twilight-like and not every dystopian is the new Hunger Games). TFiOS has literally nothing in common with Magonia - not even the girl's sickness, as we later find out. Please, do not pick this up hoping for a life-changing, heart-wrecking contemporary novel full of existentialism and reflections on life and death. It is not that kind of book. Not even a bit. 

Now, moving on to the plot line.

     Aza's sickness has been wearing her down her whole life, slowly suffocating her, making her drown on air. Then, one day, an MRI test showed a feather in here left lung. And, shortly after that, a bird flew into her mouth and down her throat, and made a nest in her lungs. And then her whole life as she knew it exploded and shattered to pieces. Because she's not who she thought she was. She doesn't belong here. She's from a different place - a place filled with flying ships and marvelous bird-people, a place hidden among the clouds and filled with magic. Death and rebirth, loss and gain, heartache and love. And nothing will ever be the same again.

     This book is, essentially, about discovering yourself and fighting for what you believe is right. Aza's far from perfect and I had a very hard time warming up to her. And in the end, I still didn't like her a whole lot. I didn't trust her. I thought she was untrustworthy and disloyal, to say the least (she was quick to switch sides and put her trust in the wrong hands, against her better judgment and warnings from others). I don't want to go into details and I certainly don't want to spend long hours nitpicking at everything she said or did, so let's just say that her character was pretty inconsistent and not convincing enough, at least to me. I liked Jason much better, though he too had his moments of "what the hell just happened?" - I still can't figure out how in the world a high school teenager managed to show up at the seed repository, that was some serious teen James Bond stuff (as in, very far fetched stuff).

     In some aspects, Magonia reminded me of The Daughter of Smoke and Bone, but only a little. The conflict here wasn't as harrowing and tragic, and the book wasn't nearly as emotionally impactful as Laini Taylor's fabulous story. It's the originality and stunning visuals that made me think of TDoSaB, for they too were spectacular and unforgettable. If only the plot line was more polished and the characters better fleshed out. This is a fantasy book that, in order to be fully enjoyed, requires some suspension of disbelief and some taking things at face value. But even then, some plot developments just don't make much sense, or maybe they're not explained convincingly enough. 

     So in the end, while I loved some aspects of the story, there were others that I did not care for as much, or at all. I liked the premise and the evocative descriptions, the flying ships and bird-hybrid creatures, the magical connection between the Magonians and their birds, the song, the mystery and the charm of it all. I did not, however, care for the weakly-grounded conflict, the ambiguity of many developments, and the almost non-existent historical and cultural background of this whole new race of creatures roaming the skies above our heads. I wanted more. I would have loved it, if the world and the characters were more thoroughly developed and the plot put together with more care for details. Because you know what they say, the devil is in the details.

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Sunday, April 19, 2015

Blog Tour: 99 Days by Katie Cotugno (Review, Playlist, Giveaway)

Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Drama, Romance
Publication.Date  April 21st 2015
Published By:  Balzer + Bray
AuthorKatie Cotugno

99 Days on Goodreads
My review copy:Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Where to get:

Day 1: Julia Donnelly eggs my house my first night back in Star Lake, and that’s how I know everyone still remembers everything—how I destroyed my relationship with Patrick the night everything happened with his brother, Gabe. How I wrecked their whole family. Now I’m serving out my summer like a jail sentence: Just ninety-nine days till I can leave for college, and be done.

Day 4: A nasty note on my windshield makes it clear Julia isn’t finished. I’m expecting a fight when someone taps me on the shoulder, but it’s just Gabe, home from college and actually happy to see me. “For what it’s worth, Molly Barlow,” he says, “I’m really glad you’re back.”

Day 12: Gabe got me to come to this party, and I’m actually having fun. I think he’s about to kiss me—and that’s when I see Patrick. My Patrick, who’s supposed to be clear across the country. My Patrick, who’s never going to forgive me.


     In 99 Days, Katie Cotugno tackles yet another difficult subject with incredible skill and impressive insight. In How To Love, Katie wrote about teenage pregnancy and complicated teenage relationships. 99 Days is, just like Katie's previous novel, a messy teenage love story, only this time the propelling force of the story is the anatomy of cheating and the consequences that follow.

     Molly Barlow is back in town for summer. Her last summer before she can escape the little town  of Star Lake for good, leaving the shame, the regrets and the hurt behind. Only 99 days left, and then she'll be off to college. Her mom is the one responsible for her misery - she wrote a bestselling book based on Molly's complicated love life, dragging all her secrets out in the open for the entire world to see. Now, everyone knows Molly cheated on her boyfriend with his brother. Even after a whole year has past, people still remember and still hate her for that. How will she survive this summer?

     Katie Cotugno is the queen of complicated teenage stories that take you way outside of your comfort zone and force you to stop and think about issues you'd otherwise most likely dismiss or stay away from. Her characters are perfectly imperfect and, therefore, so much more authentic and convincing than most characters in YA fiction. They are not embellished, they are not here to impress us with their flawless personalities and the ability to always do the right thing; make the right decision. Instead, they are messy, they are confused, they make mistakes, they regret those mistakes, they feel lost... and they make mistakes again. They do all the things normal, flawed teenagers do. I found it incredibly easy to connect with Katie's characters. To me, 99 Days wasn't about cheating, or love, or even complicated family relationships or difficult pasts. It was about human nature - flawed, emotional, unpredictable - and how we deal with things.

     99 Days is not an easy read. Not everyone will like it, or be able to connect with it. It's not a cute love story, it's a heavy, sticky and incredibly emotionally affecting read. Exploring some truly difficult subject matter, it's a thought-provoking and meaningful story. A very smart contemporary YA that does not hold back and tells it how it is. Katie Cotugno does a fantastic job navigating through the quicksand of teenage life, with all its disappointments, unforgiveness, judgement and confusion. She examines the way the society tends to label and categorize without really trying to see the whole story. She paints a very vivid and undeniably disturbing picture of unfair judgement, stereotypes and preconceived notions Molly has to deal with when she gets back in town. Of course, she's not innocent, but she's not the only one responsible for the messy situation. How come she's pretty much the only one dealing with the backlash? You need two to tango, right?

     The romance part of the story was, in my opinion, very well done. The complexity of it, the way Katie slowly revealed the motivations of her characters, their thoughts and feelings.. it all came together nicely, and even though you obviously don't approve of the characters' actions, you can't help but sympathize with them. The way Katie tells the story is neither to condemn nor redeem, rather to simply paint a whole picture and let the readers decide for themselves. 

     Overall, 99 Days is definitely worth reading, even if it takes you outside of your comfort zone - or perhaps especially if it does. It's intelligent, deep, extremely well written, full of insightful thoughts and observations, and realistically drawn. It's captivating. It's dramatic. It's emotional. A quality YA fiction, indeed.


1) Breakaway - Kelly Clarkson
2) Trouble - Taylor Swift
3) Misunderstood - Robby Williams
4) The Reason - Hoobastank 
5) Wherever You Will Go - The Calling
6) Who Knew - Pink
7) Is It Any Wonder? - Keane

About the author:

Katie Cotugno went to Catholic school for thirteen years which makes her, as an adult, both extremely superstitious and prone to crushes on boys wearing blazers. She routinely finds herself talking about the romantic endeavors of characters on TV shows as if they actually exist in the world.

Katie is a Pushcart Prize nominee whose work has appeared in The Broadkill Review, The Apalachee Review, and Argestes, as well as on Her first novel, HOW TO LOVE, is due out from Balzer + Bray on October 1st, 2013.

The great loves of Katie's life include child's pose, her little sister, and mozzarella and honey sandwiches. She lives in Boston (and in sin) with her boyfriend, Tom.
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