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Monday, September 26, 2016

Book Review: Rebel Magisters by Shanna Swendson


Series:
Rebel Mechanics #2
Genre:
Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Steampunk
Publication.Date:July 12, 2016
Pages:238 (eBook)
Published By:  NLA Digital
Website:Shanna Swendson 

Rebel Magisters on Goodreads
My review copy:
Borrowed

Where to get:

  



Tea, Love ... and Revolution!

The Rebel Mechanics aren’t the only group plotting revolution against the magical British Empire. There are rebel magisters, as well, and Verity Newton and her magister employer, Lord Henry, know that the only way for the revolution to succeed is if both groups work together. A diplomatic mission seems like the perfect opportunity for them to meet with rebels in other colonies and gather support—right under the governor’s nose.

From drawing rooms, ballrooms, and the harbor in Boston to the streets of Charleston, Verity and Henry find themselves up against stubborn factions of both magisters and Mechanics and increasingly aware that they can only really count on each other as their relationship deepens. It may take a real crisis to unite the rebel movements and rally them to the cause—but could such a crisis also tear them apart?

(Goodreads)


I was an immediate fan of Rebel Mechanics when I read it last year. When it ended, I was a little sad that it was a standalone so imagine my surprise when I saw a fellow blogger add Rebel Magisters on Goodreads!

Much like Rebel Mechanics, this follow-up is fast-paced and entertaining. Verity continues to assist the Mechanics and Henry in starting a revolution against the high-ranking Magisters, only now she becomes a liaison between the Rebel Mechanics and a few choice Magisters who no longer support the British throne.

Verity, still distrustful of the Magisters after they tricked her into joining them, continues to assist them as she approves of their end game, but questions some of their motives and ways they accomplish some of their smaller tasks. I like that she kept her eyes and ears open around the group due to her past experiences and didn't just ignore their wrongdoings.

Verity becomes a stronger contender in the upcoming revolution this time around. While Lord Henry is aware of her commitments to the Rebel Mechanics, she still has to sneak around the city delivering letters. Not to mention, the children's grandfather is The Duke of New York (aka governor of the American colonies), which adds an extra element of risk. Speaking of the children, I became such a huge fan of Flora during this novel and I can't wait to see what becomes of her character in future installments.

The relationship between Verity and Lord Henry, now that their secrets are out in the open (at least between one another), is adorable. Because of their class difference, they can't express themselves as they wish to but their secret glances and meetings tell us the whole story.

I'm glad Shanna went ahead with writing and publishing this second installment because while I was content with the ending of Rebel Mechanics, I craved more of this world. I will warn you that Rebel Magisters is not the end. While Shanna states she has plans to continue the series, she doesn't yet have any details. I, however, will be waiting with baited breath for the next book in this series!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

ARC Review + Giveaway: Frost Like Night by Sara Raasch


I am thrilled to be a stop on the book tour for Frost Like Night by Sara Raasch, hosted by Rockstar Book Tours! I have a review for your reading pleasure, but be sure to check out the tour schedule below, or click the banner above, for more!
Don't forget to enter the giveaway!



Series:
Snow Like Ashes #3
Genre:
Young Adult, Fantasy
Publication.Date:September 20, 2016
Pages:496 (ARC)
Published By:  Balzer + Bray
Website:Sara Raasch

Frost Like Night on Goodreads
My review copy:
Received in exchange for an honest review

Where to get:

  



Angra is alive, his Decay is spreading—and no one is safe.

Meira will do anything to save her world. With Angra trying to break through her mental defenses, she desperately needs to learn to control her own magic—so when the leader of a mysterious Order from Paisly offers to teach her, she jumps at the chance. But the true solution to stopping the Decay lies in a labyrinth deep beneath the Season Kingdoms. To defeat Angra, Meira will have to enter the labyrinth, destroy the very magic she’s learning to control—and make the biggest sacrifice of all.

Mather will do anything to save his queen. He needs to rally the Children of the Thaw, find Meira—and finally tell her how he really feels. But with a plan of attack that leaves no kingdom unscathed and a major betrayal within their ranks, winning the war—and protecting Meira—slips farther and farther out of reach.

Ceridwen will do anything to save her people. Angra had her brother killed, stole her kingdom, and made her a prisoner. But when she’s freed by an unexpected ally who reveals a shocking truth behind Summer’s slave trade, Ceridwen must take action to save her true love and her kingdom, even if it costs her what little she has left.

As Angra unleashes the Decay on the world, Meira, Mather, and Ceridwen must bring the kingdoms of Primoria together…or lose everything.

(Goodreads)


2016 has been the year of series ending - at least for me - and next on my list was Frost Like Night by Sara Raasch. Most of the time, I drag my feet when it comes to a series ender (see my yet untouched copy of The Beauty of Darkness by Mary E. Pearson), but thankfully Rockstar Book Tours was here to kick my butt into high gear.

Not that I needed much prodding once Frost Like Night arrived at my house and I began reading it because Sara's delivers an amazing conclusion to her Snow Like Ashes series. Everything is coming to a head - Angra's growing hold over all of Primoria, Meira's desire to stop him (and not die) while attempting to unite those in Primoria not under his Decay, Ceridwen's determination to save her people and reclaim Summer, and Mather's love and need to protect Meira from all things.

Sara packs so much into Frost Like Night, but keeps everything cohesive, clear, and worthy of non-stop page turning. The only time I stumbled was in the beginning. She picks up right where Ice Like Fire left off and it took me a few chapters to remember what happened. I knew the big things, yes, but some of the smaller details had been lost to time. Once the ball got rolling though, it kept rolling.

The narrative of Frost Like Night is a mixture of chapters from Meira's, Mather's, and Ceridwen's points of view. I love that we get to see this final installment from all three perspectives because it really allows us to immerse ourselves in the story, especially when the three get separated for various reasons, and connect with all characters, not just our narrators. It also allows us to see how much these individuals have progressed since we first met them (Mather and Meira in Snow Like Ashes and Ceridwen in Ice Like Fire).

Meira, in my perspective, goes through the biggest transformation. She starts the series as wanting to do/know more but being slightly meek and mild. Afraid to challenge Sir and stir the pot, so to speak. She ends this series strong, determined, and ready to sacrifice herself not only for Winter and those she loves but for all of Primoria. It's an amazing transformation that truly shows the depth of Sara's characterization skill.

Like with many beloved series, I'm sad to see it end but Frost Like Night's ending is spot on. There were definite tears, moments of giddy joy, shocking plot points, and cursing of Sara's name (nothing personal, girl!). I'll miss these characters and their relationships with one another, but I know I'll be revisiting them again in the future and I cannot wait to see what Sara comes out with next!



Title: Snow Like Ashes
Author: Sara Raasch
Series: Snow Like Ashes #1
Release Date: October 14, 2014
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it: Goodreads | Amazon Barnes & Noble iBooks
My Review: Posted October 4, 2015
A heartbroken girl. A fierce warrior. A hero in the making.

Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now, the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.

Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterians’ general, Sir. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, and future king, Mather — she would do anything to help her kingdom rise to power again.

So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she’s scaling towers, fighting enemy soldiers, and serving her kingdom just as she’s always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn’t go as planned, and Meira soon finds herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics – and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.


Title: Ice Like Fire
Author: Sara Raasch
Series: Snow Like Ashes #2
Release Date: October 13, 2015
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it: Goodreads | Amazon Barnes & Noble iBooks
My Review: Posted October 13, 2015
It’s been three months since the Winterians were freed and Spring’s king, Angra, disappeared—thanks largely to the help of Cordell.

Meira just wants her people to be safe. When Cordellan debt forces the Winterians to dig their mines for payment, they unearth something powerful and possibly dangerous: Primoria’s lost chasm of magic. Theron sees this find as an opportunity—with this much magic, the world can finally stand against threats like Angra. But Meira fears the danger the chasm poses—the last time the world had access to so much magic, it spawned the Decay. So when the king of Cordell orders the two on a mission across the kingdoms of Primoria to discover the chasm’s secrets, Meira plans to use the trip to garner support to keep the chasm shut and Winter safe—even if it means clashing with Theron. But can she do so without endangering the people she loves?

Mather just wants to be free. The horrors inflicted on the Winterians hang fresh and raw in Januari—leaving Winter vulnerable to Cordell’s growing oppression. When Meira leaves to search for allies, he decides to take Winter’s security into his own hands. Can he rebuild his broken kingdom and protect them from new threats?

As the web of power and deception weaves tighter, Theron fights for magic, Mather fights for freedom—and Meira starts to wonder if she should be fighting not just for Winter, but for the world.




Sara Raasch has known she was destined for bookish things since the age of five, when her friends had a lemonade stand and she tagged along to sell her hand-drawn picture books too. Not much has changed since then — her friends still cock concerned eyebrows when she attempts to draw things and her enthusiasm for the written word still drives her to extreme measures. Her debut YA fantasy, SNOW LIKE ASHES, came out October 14, 2014 from Balzer + Bray, and the sequel, ICE LIKE FIRE, comes out October 13, 2015. Neither features her hand-drawn pictures.




Tour Schedule

9/12/2016- Young Adult at Heart- Interview
9/13/2016- Reviews from a Bookworm- Review
9/14/2016- Fiktshun- Guest Post
9/15/2016- Tween 2 Teen Book Reviews- Review
9/16/2016- The Cover Contessa- Interview

9/19/2016- Quartzfeather- Review
9/20/2016- Writing My Own Fairy Tale- Guest Post
9/21/2016- Bookish Lifestyle- Review
9/22/2016- Two Chicks on Books- Interview
9/23/2016- Mundie Moms- Review

The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan {Book Promo, Review & Giveaway}



Genre:
Contemporary Fiction
Publication.Date  September 20th, 2016
Pages:368
Published By:  William Morrow Paperbacks 
AuthorJenny Colgan

The Bookshop on the Corner on Goodreads
My review copy:I received a copy in exchange for an honest review. 
Where to get:



Nina Redmond is a librarian with a gift for finding the perfect book for her readers. But can she write her own happy-ever-after? In this valentine to readers, librarians, and book-lovers the world over, the New York Times-bestselling author of Little Beach Street Bakery returns with a funny, moving new novel for fans of Meg Donohue, Sophie Kinsella, and Nina George’s The Little Paris Bookshop.
“Losing myself in Jenny Colgan’s beautiful pages is the most delicious, comforting, satisfying treat I have had in ages.”—Jane Green, New York Times bestselling author of Summer Secrets
Nina Redmond is a literary matchmaker. Pairing a reader with that perfect book is her passion… and also her job. Or at least it was. Until yesterday, she was a librarian in the hectic city. But now the job she loved is no more.
Determined to make a new life for herself, Nina moves to a sleepy village many miles away. There she buys a van and transforms it into a bookmobile—a mobile bookshop that she drives from neighborhood to neighborhood, changing one life after another with the power of storytelling. 
From helping her grumpy landlord deliver a lamb, to sharing picnics with a charming train conductor who serenades her with poetry, Nina discovers there’s plenty of adventure, magic, and soul in a place that’s beginning to feel like home… a place where she just might be able to write her own happy ending.




The problem with good things that happen is that very often they disguise themselves as awful things. It would be lovely, wouldn’t it, whenever you’re going through something difficult, if someone could just tap you on the shoulder and say, “Don’t worry, it’s completely worth it. It seems like absolutely horrible crap now, but I promise it will all come good in the end,” and you could say, “Thank you, Fairy Godmother.” You might also say, “Will I also lose that seven pounds?” and they would say, “But of course, my child!”


That would be useful, but it isn’t how it is, which is why we sometimes plow on too long
with things that aren’t making us happy, or give up too quickly on something that might yet
work itself out, and it is often difficult to tell precisely which is which.

A life lived forward can be a really irritating thing. So Nina thought, at any rate. Nina
Redmond, twenty-nine, was telling herself not to cry in public. If you have ever tried giving
yourself a good talking-to, you’ll know it doesn’t work terribly well. She was at work, for
goodness’ sake. You weren’t meant to cry at work.

She wondered if anyone else ever did. Then she wondered if maybe everyone did, even
Cathy Neeson, with her stiff too-blond hair, and her thin mouth and her spreadsheets, who was right at this moment standing in a corner, watching the room with folded arms and a grim expression, after delivering to the small team Nina was a member of a speech filled with jargon about how there were cutbacks all over, and Birmingham couldn’t afford to maintain all its libraries, and how austerity was something they just had to get used to.

Nina reckoned probably not. Some people just didn’t have a tear in them.

(What Nina didn’t know was that Cathy Neeson cried on the way to work, on the way
home from work—after eight o’clock most nights—every time she laid someone off, every time she was asked to shave another few percent off an already skeleton budget, every time she was ordered to produce some new quality relevant paperwork, and every time her boss dumped a load of administrative work on her at four o’clock on a Friday afternoon on his way to a skiing vacation, of which he took many.

Eventually she ditched the entire thing and went and worked in a National Trust gift
shop for a fifth of the salary and half the hours and none of the tears. But this story is not about Cathy Neeson.)




It was just, Nina thought, trying to squash down the lump in her throat . . . it was just
that they had been such a little library.

Children’s story time Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Early closing Wednesday
afternoon. A shabby old-fashioned building with tatty linoleum floors. A little musty sometimes, it was true. The big dripping radiators could take a while to get going of a morning and then would become instantly too warm, with a bit of a fug, particularly off old Charlie Evans, who came in to keep warm and read the Morning Star cover to cover, very slowly. She wondered where the Charlie Evanses of the world would go now.

Cathy Neeson had explained that they were going to compress the library services into
the center of town, where they would become a “hub,” with a “multimedia experience zone”
and a coffee shop and an “intersensory experience,” whatever that was, even though town was at least two bus trips too far for most of their elderly or strollered-up clientele.

Their lovely, tatty, old pitched-roof premises were being sold off to become executive
apartments that would be well beyond the reach of a librarian’s salary. And Nina Redmond,
twenty-nine, bookworm, with her long tangle of auburn hair, her pale skin with freckles dotted here and there, and a shyness that made her blush—or want to burst into tears—at the most inopportune moments, was, she got the feeling, going to be thrown out into the cold winds of a world that was getting a lot of unemployed librarians on the market at the same time.

“So,” Cathy Neeson had concluded, “you can pretty much get started on packing up the
‘books’ right away.”

She said “books” like it was a word she found distasteful in her shiny new vision of
Mediatech Services. All those grubby, awkward books.


Nina dragged herself into the back room with a heavy heart and a slight redness around her
eyes. Fortunately, everyone else looked more or less the same way. Old Rita O’Leary, who
should probably have retired about a decade ago but was so kind to their clientele that
everyone overlooked the fact that she couldn’t see the numbers on the Dewey Decimal System anymore and filed more or less at random, had burst into floods, and Nina had been able to cover up her own sadness comforting her.

“You know who else did this?” hissed her colleague Griffin through his straggly beard as
she made her way through. Griffin was casting a wary look at Cathy Neeson, still out in the main area as he spoke. “The Nazis. They packed up all the books and threw them onto bonfires.”


“They’re not throwing them onto bonfires!” said Nina. “They’re not actually Nazis.”

“That’s what everyone thinks. Then before you know it, you’ve got Nazis.”

With breathtaking speed, there’d been a sale, of sorts, with most of their clientele leafing
through old familiar favorites in the ten pence box and leaving the shinier, newer stock behind.

Now, as the days went on, they were meant to be packing up the rest of the books to
ship them to the central library, but Griffin’s normally sullen face was looking even darker than usual. He had a long, unpleasantly scrawny beard, and a scornful attitude toward people who didn’t read the books he liked. As the only books he liked were obscure 1950s out-of- print stories about frustrated young men who drank too much in Fitzrovia, that gave him a lot of time to hone his attitude. He was still talking about book burners.

“They won’t get burned! They’ll go to the big place in town.”

Nina couldn’t bring herself to even say Mediatech. Griffin snorted. “Have you seen the plans? Coffee, computers, DVDs, plants, admin offices, and people doing cost–benefit analysis and harassing the unemployed—sorry, running ‘mindfulness workshops.’ There isn’t room for a book in the whole damn place.” He gestured at the dozens of boxes. “This will be landfill. They’ll use it to make roads.”

“They won’t!”

“They will! That’s what they do with dead books, didn’t you know? Turn them into
underlay for roads. So great big cars can roll over the top of centuries of thought and ideas and scholarship, metaphorically stamping a love of learning into the dust with their stupid big tires and blustering Top Gear idiots killing the planet.”

“You’re not in the best of moods this morning, are you, Griffin?”

“Could you two hurry it along a bit over there?” said Cathy Neeson, bustling in, sounding
anxious. They only had the budget for the collection trucks for one afternoon; if they didn’t
manage to load everything up in time, she’d be in serious trouble.

“Yes, Commandant Über-Führer,” said Griffin under his breath as she bustled out again, her blond bob still rigid. “God, that woman is so evil it’s unbelievable.”

But Nina wasn’t listening. She was looking instead in despair at the thousands of
volumes around her, so hopeful with their beautiful covers and optimistic blurbs. To condemn any of them to waste disposal seemed heartbreaking: these were books! To Nina it was like closing down an animal shelter. And there was no way they were going to get it all done today, no matter what Cathy Neeson thought.

Which was how, six hours later, when Nina’s Mini Metro pulled up in front of the front door of her tiny shared house, it was completely and utterly stuffed with volumes.




Nina gets downsized from a British library and her library is disbanded so she packs up and heads north for life's next opportunity. Little did she know that she would purchase a ramshackle old van and become a mobile bookstore for a small town in Scotland. She meets an interesting assortment of men from a quiet Latvian railway man to her grumpy farmer landlord and as she brings them a new world through books they begin to teach her a new life. Nina has a lifeline in her friend and old roommate as she tries to bridge her old life in the city and new one in the country. Soon her "Happy Ever After" bookshop has become a mainstay in the little town but can Nina find her own happy ever after? 

How could I not enjoy this charming story of a librarian who gets laid off and decides to pursue her dream? Nina is the consummate reader's advisor who loves matching each person with the right book. She is fun, quirky and a very interesting character to get to know. I just loved the way the author unfolded this story and I can't wait to read more by Jenny Colgan! 

This is a beautiful story told from a book lovers perspective. Being a reader myself and always looking for the next great book, I could really relate to Nina and how much reading shaped her life. 


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