Thursday, May 5, 2016

Blog Tour Swoon Thursday (#171) and Giveaway: Summer of Sloane by Erin L. Schneider

Welcome to the blog tour for Summer of Sloane by Erin L. Schneider! I am so excited to be sharing a steamy swoon from this book. Tuck in!

Swoon Thursday is a hot meme hosted by the fabulous ladies at YA Bound!

- From the book you’re currently reading, or one you just finished, tell us what made you SWOON. What got your heart pounding, your skin tingling, and your stomach fluttering

- Try to make the swoon excerpt 140 characters (or less), if you are going to tweet about it. Use the hashtag #YABOUND when tweeting

This week, my swoon is from Summer of Sloane by Erin L. Schneider!

[Context: Finn and Sloane just jumped off of a waterfall! For fun.]

My adrenaline is pumping something fierce, my heartbeat so frantic to keep up it stutters against the inside of my chest. And then Finn does something equally crazy. He leans in and kisses me as the spray from the falls kicks up around us. He pulls me close, and this kiss is nothing like the sloppy attempt last night. The moment is so big, from the waterfall to the jumping to my crazy heart that's beating a mile a minute.

He trails soft kisses along the edge of my mouth, and the makes his way along my chin, and finds his way to just below my eat. A wicked shiver courses down my spine as he pulls me in closer.

- Hardcover, page 157

About the Book:

Summer of Sloane by Erin L. Schneider
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication Date; May 3, 2016

Official Summary:

Warm Hawaiian sun. Lazy beach days. Flirty texts with her boyfriend back in Seattle.

These are the things seventeen-year-old Sloane McIntyre pictured when she imagined the summer she’d be spending at her mom’s home in Hawaii with her twin brother, Penn. Instead, after learning an unthinkable secret about her boyfriend, Tyler, and best friend, Mick, all she has is a fractured hand and a completely shattered heart.

Once she arrives in Honolulu, though, Sloane hopes that Hawaii might just be the escape she needs. With beach bonfires, old friends, exotic food, and the wonders of a waterproof cast, there’s no reason Sloane shouldn’t enjoy her summer. And when she meets Finn McAllister, the handsome son of a hotel magnate who doesn’t always play by the rules, she knows he’s the perfect distraction from everything that’s so wrong back home.

But it turns out a measly ocean isn’t nearly enough to stop all the emails, texts, and voice mails from her ex-boyfriend and ex-best friend, desperate to explain away their betrayal. And as her casual connection with Finn grows deeper, Sloane’s carefree summer might not be as easy to find as she’d hoped. Weighing years of history with Mick and Tyler against their deception, and the delicate possibility of new love, Sloane must decide when to forgive, and when to live for herself.

About the Author:

Erin L. Schneider is native to the Pacific Northwest, attended college in Honolulu, and - although Hawaiian - should never be allowed on a surfboard. With more than twenty years in corporate merchandising, she’s now a full-time writer living in Seattle with her husband, Neal; their baby boy, Kellan; a rowdy German shepherd named Ronin; and two crazy cats, Ono and Poke. She’s a member of both the Pacific Northwest Writers Association and SCBWI, and is also co-founder of the YA Buccaneers

SUMMER OF SLOANE is her debut novel, out May 3, 2016 from Disney-Hyperion. Visit Erin online at Erin L Schneider or on Twitter: @ErinLSchneider1.

The Giveaway:

3 Finished Copies of SUMMER OF SLOANE (US Only)

Follow the Tour:

Week 1:
5/2: Lost In Lit - Review
5/3: Reading Teen - Q&A
5/5: The Eater of Books! - Swoon Thursday
5/6: A Book & A Latte - Review

Week 2:
5/9: The Irish Banana Review - Playlist
5/10: Go Read A Book - Review
5/11: Paperback Princess - Top 10
5/12: A Leisure Moment - Review
5/13: Book Addict's Guide - Scent Combinations

Review: Summer of Sloane by Erin L. Schneider

Summer of Sloane by Erin L. Schneider
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication Date: May 3, 2016
Rating: 4 stars
Source: Review copy sent by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads):

Warm Hawaiian sun. Lazy beach days. Flirty texts with her boyfriend back in Seattle.

These are the things seventeen-year-old Sloane McIntyre pictured when she imagined the summer she’d be spending at her mom’s home in Hawaii with her twin brother, Penn. Instead, after learning an unthinkable secret about her boyfriend, Tyler, and best friend, Mick, all she has is a fractured hand and a completely shattered heart.

Once she arrives in Honolulu, though, Sloane hopes that Hawaii might just be the escape she needs. With beach bonfires, old friends, exotic food, and the wonders of a waterproof cast, there’s no reason Sloane shouldn’t enjoy her summer. And when she meets Finn McAllister, the handsome son of a hotel magnate who doesn’t always play by the rules, she knows he’s the perfect distraction from everything that’s so wrong back home.

But it turns out a measly ocean isn’t nearly enough to stop all the emails, texts, and voicemails from her ex-boyfriend and ex-best friend, desperate to explain away their betrayal. And as her casual connection with Finn grows deeper, Sloane’s carefree summer might not be as easy to find as she’d hoped. Weighing years of history with Mick and Tyler against their deception, and the delicate possibility of new love, Sloane must decide when to forgive, and when to live for herself. 

What I Liked:

I didn't have expectations when I decided to read this book. I wasn't sure what to expect, which is good - low expectations mean less disappointment. I'm not a fan of YA contemporary, especially the ones that might have drama. But I was pleasantly surprised when I found that I really enjoyed this book! It is in the running for top ten YA contemporary novels of 2016.

Sloane is going to head to Hawaii with her twin brother in the next day or so, to spend the summer with her mother and stepfather. But the day before she leaves, everything falls apart. Her best friend Mick tells her something, something that happened between Mick and Tyler (Sloane's boyfriend). So Sloane punches Tyler, breaks his nose in three places, and leaves for Hawaii with a black cast on her right hand. Hawaii is exactly what Sloane needs; a clean break (ha ha), friends that aren't friends with Mick or Tyler, different cuisine and culture... and a hot guy who is the son of a hotel magnate. The attraction to Finn pulls Sloane in. But her problems don't just disappear. Tyler won't stop calling and texting, and Mick texts and emails constantly. Even an ocean away, Sloane can't escape the problems that she left behind. But she knows one thing - she is not ready to forgive Tyler and Mick.

The beginning of this book broke my heart. I was soooo not expecting what Mick and Tyler did... well, obviously we can kind of figure out that they slept together, behind Sloane's back. This was heartbreaking, experiencing what Sloane felt. She was so anger and so hurt and so betrayed, and my heart broke for her. I would have shattered Tyler's nose as well! But also Mick's. There is a reason why Sloane didn't lay a hand on Mick.

Sloane hardens her heart and doesn't respond to any texts, calls, emails, or letters that Tyler and Mick send to her, when she leaves for Hawaii, while she's at Hawaii. Good for her! I love that Sloane stays strong and doesn't cave in to communicating with Tyler, or Mick. Yes, these are her (ex)-boyfriend and (ex)-best friend, but they deserve to be shut out by Sloane. I respect Sloane's decisions, and I felt just as scorned as she did! She's pretty much done with Tyler, after she leaves and goes to Hawaii. He has no shot. Mick though... Sloane misses her best friend. But she's done with Mick too, and eventually, Mick's texts start to turn really b****y, and Mick decides she's done with Sloane.

I really like Sloane. She's a swimmer, and she's pretty outgoing. She initiates her and Finn's first real conversation and interaction, and I thought it was hilarious (and embarrassing for her, at the end of that first interaction - so funny!). Sloane is not mopey or terribly sad; she misses her ex-boyfriend, her ex-best friend, but she's angry and over it, not pathetic and sad.

Finn is my favorite character! He's charming and slightly arrogant, but not in the cliche YA boy way. He's very tall and very athletic (he plays football?), and very attractive. But he's also sweet and caring and considerate, and he has a lot on his plate. I feel so bad for him! You could say that he has daddy issues. But he loves his younger sister, and he is great to Sloane.

Sloane doesn't jump right into things with Finn; the romance is progressive, not sloth-like, but not lightning-fast. I like the pacing of the development of their relationship. It takes about half the book for them to finally kiss! But it was sweet and steamy and totally them. I like that Sloane doesn't transition from one guy to another. She'd known Tyler for so long and had been with him for quite sometime. It wouldn't have made sense if she had forgotten all about Tyler. She was angry with him, and hurt, but she didn't make irrational decisions with Finn, nor was she using him as a rebound,

There is some slight drama in this book, but I thought everything was so realistic and so justified. The initial drama, in the first scene, when Mick tells Sloane what she and Tyler did - that was the biggest dramatic scene, and I felt angry right along with Sloane, so I didn't really consider this "drama". The climax had some drama, but it resolved itself quickly enough that it didn't bother me too much.

I just really like how realistic all of the situations seemed. All of Sloane's emotions, her pain, her anger - I felt everything with her, exactly like she did. Schneider got it all right! And the feels! I got hit right in the feels in more than one scene.

The secondary characters were fun to follow! Penn, Sloane's brother, was pretty funny. I liked Mia, though she is a little too free-spirited for me. Maile is a sweetie! And I liked Sloane and Penn's mother more than I thought I would.

I haven't really mentioned the romance - the romance was so, so sweet. And pretty steamy. The chemistry between Sloane and Finn is pretty instant, but the emotions/romance develops beautifully. There is no Tyler - while Sloane thinks about him like once or twice, he never had a chance. 

How Sloane handled Mick and Tyler - well, she did better than I would have. Mick turns into an uber b**** at the end of the book, and Sloane is kind about everything. I'm glad Sloane is able to move past everything, but I'm also glad that she doesn't simply forgive anyone.

Overall, I really liked this book. It's getting 4.5 stars from me (though I am rounding down). I am definitely interested in reading more by this author!

What I Did Not Like:

Hmmm, maybe I wish Sloane weren't as nice as she was at the very ending of the book, with Mick? Tyler too. I wish she yelled at them some, got it out of her system. Tyler cheated on her! Mick slept with her boyfriend! Both of those are unforgivable to me (especially when they are one and the same). There was one point where I was worried about Sloane and Finn, but it ended up being some miscommunication drama (the worst - but it wasn't bad, in this book). The drama overall wasn't bad! It could have been worse.

Would I Recommend It:

I'd recommend this book, especially if you like YA contemporary novels! This book touches on some tough issues (which I won't mention specifically because *spoilers*), in both Sloane's life and Finn's life (and actually, Penn's life too). And the romance is sweet and sizzling! The characters are wonderful and our OTP is shippable.


4.5 stars -> rounded down to 4 stars. I will definitely be looking out for more books by this author in the future! I'm curious to see if the author will write a companion novel (maybe for Penn? Or even Tyler. Not Mick though.) - that would be great!

Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday (#175): Illusion by Martina Boone

"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, I'm featuring:

Illusion by Martina Boone
Book Three of the Heirs of Watson Island series
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: October 25, 2016

Summary (from Goodreads):

Barrie must rescue her beloved and her family from evil spirits in the masterful conclusion to the Heirs of Watson Island trilogy.

Caged by secrets all around her and haunted by mistakes that have estranged her from Eight Beaufort, Barrie Watson is desperate to break the curse that puts her family in danger—without breaking the beautiful magic that protects Watson’s Landing. To do that, she must heal the rifts that have split the families of the island apart for three hundred years, unravel the mystery of the Fire Carrier and the spirits he guards, and take control of forces so deadly and awe-inspiring they threaten to overwhelm her.

With the spirits that cursed Watson Island centuries ago awake and more dangerous than ever, she finds an unlikely ally in the haunting and enigmatic Obadiah, whose motivations and power she still can’t read—or trust. His help comes at a price, however, plunging Barrie into a deadly maze of magic and wonder, mystery and intrigue that leads through history to places she never imagined she could go. 

Beautiful cover! I can't wait to see how this series ends. =)

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Blog Tour and Giveaway: The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

Welcome to the Rockstar Book Tours blog tour for The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi! Last week, I participated in the published-hosted blog tour, and this week, I'm really excited to host Roshani a second time. And there is a giveaway!

On literary influences (stories/books/tales that influenced The Star-Touched Queen)
By Roshani Chokshi

Senior year in high school was the first time I read Milton’s Paradise Lost. I remember the first time I read that infamous quote “I’d rather reign in hell than serve in heaven.” Everyone thought that quote was cool. People would write it on their arms like a fake tattoo and call themselves edgy AF. I WAS THE EXACT SAME WAY. (Sidenote, in highschool I was super dramatic…I think all of my AIM screen names were either Oenone — the jilted lover of Paris whom he left for Helen of Troy — or Desdemona/Ophelia…kinda want to go back in time and smack myself upside the head). 

ANYWAY. In class, my awesome teacher started talking about the Hades & Persephone myth. I’d always liked that story for the atmosphere of it, the blood-red pomegranate seeds and broody underworld king. But my teacher (Hi Coach Crook!) used Lucifer’s infamous line in Persephone’s context.
He started talking about who Persephone was. And whether she’d really been tricked into eating that pomegranate or if she wanted to. What if she got to Hell, took a look around and was like “…this isn’t so bad…the drapes are horrific, and the furniture screams eternal bachelor, but everything else…queen of the underworld? No running around in Demeter’s meadows making daisy chains? Hm…” (← my embellishments)
That was the emotional start of The Star-Touched Queen, although I didn’t realize this until 4 years later. That choice to stay in a place that was monstrous because it validated you and all your ambitions was so powerful. I loved that. Which later raised the question of how did you EARN that vast amount of power? This is where the framework of other fairy tales started influencing the foundation of TSTQ. In college, I majored in 14th century British literature. I LOVED EVERYTHING I READ. #MarieDeFranceBretonLaisAllDayEveryDay. When I expanded my study, I noticed something I had observed when I was little (my parents gave us world mythology books) but couldn’t articulate:

The fairytales were the same. 

The cultural context added a new lens to the story, but they were, ultimately, indistinguishable. And there was something freeing in that. We’re all telling the same tale. We’re all experiencing the same struggles. Beauty and The Beast, Shakuntula, Cupid and Psyche, East of the Sun and West of the Moon…similar. Savitri & Satyavan and Hades & Persephone…similar. In all of those stories, the women were faced with something monstrous with the potential to be beautiful. They earned the right to that beauty through personal trials, which may or may not take the form of a quest or the form of a choice. That was a really eye-opening moment for me. 
To me, it’s very powerful to retell fairytales. We’ve had those stories for generations, and yet their beauty is that we can remake and reshape them constantly to reflect the world around us. 
Of course, all this didn’t really cement in my brain until AFTER graduation. I wrote TSTQ in a year from the assembled bits and pieces I had cobbled together over the past four years. And y’all know the rest of this story :)

About the Author:

Roshani Chokshi comes from a small town in Georgia where she collected a Southern accent, but does not use it unless under duress. She grew up in a blue house with a perpetually napping bear-dog. At Emory University, she dabbled with journalism, attended some classes in pajamas, forgot to buy winter boots and majored in 14th century British literature. She spent a year after graduation working and traveling and writing. After that, she started law school at the University of Georgia where she’s learning a new kind of storytelling.

About the Book:

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publication Date: April 26, 2016

Summary (from Goodreads):

Cursed with a horoscope that promises a marriage of Death and Destruction, sixteen-year-old Maya has only earned the scorn and fear of her father's kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her world is upheaved when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. But when her wedding takes a fatal turn, Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Yet neither roles are what she expected. As Akaran's queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar's wife, she finds friendship and warmth.

But Akaran has its own secrets - thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Beneath Akaran's magic, Maya begins to suspect her life is in danger. When she ignores Amar's plea for patience, her discoveries put more than new love at risk - it threatens the balance of all realms, human and Otherworldly.

Now, Maya must confront a secret that spans reincarnated lives and fight her way through the dangerous underbelly of the Otherworld if she wants to protect the people she loves.

Inspired by Indian mythology. 

The Giveaway:

2 winners will receive a finished copy of THE STAR TOUCHED QUEEN, US Only.

The Tour:

Week One:
4/25/2016- Dark Faerie Tales- Guest Post
4/26/2016- Fiction Fare- Review
4/27/2016- Once Upon a Twilight- Interview
4/28/2016- Pandora's Books- Review
4/29/2016- Two Chicks on Books- Interview

Week Two:
5/2/2016- BookHounds YA- Review
5/3/2016- The Eater of Books!- Guest Post
5/4/2016- Mary Had a Little Book Blog- Review
5/5/2016- Brittany's Book Rambles- Interview
5/6/2016- Storybook Slayers- Review

Blog Tour and Giveaway: Seducing the Fireman by Jennifer Bonds

Welcome to the blog tour for Seducing the Fireman by Jennifer Bonds! I absolutely adored Seducing the Fireman, and the previous book in the series (Once Upon a Power Play). Today, I have Jennifer Bonds on the blog, and a steamy excerpt!

Writing a Unique Fireman Hero in a Romance Novel
By Jennifer Bonds

Hi, Alyssa! Thanks so much for hosting me at The Eater of Books! I’m thrilled to be here dishing on Seducing the Fireman and chatting about the challenge of writing a unique, Halligan toting hero in a romance novel. I should probably start off by admitting I’ve never actually read a romance novel featuring a fireman.

Scandalous, right?

The good news is that when I set out to write Seducing the Fireman, I had no basis for comparison and no expectation of what a romance hero rocking turnout gear should be.

In fact, the only time I’ve encountered a real, live firefighter was when a team of them showed up at my house in the middle of the night to bus me and my newborn son off to the hospital. Unfortunately, I wasn’t exactly in the right state of mind to have a legitimate conversation (so not how I imagined my birth plan or meeting the local fire department), but that’s a story for another day. ;-)

Nope. No preconceived notions here. Which is why I like to think my challenge wasn’t writing a unique fireman, but writing an authentic one. It was incredibly important to me that Jax was legit from the top of his helmet to the tips of his boots. In the way he perceived his job, his training, even the way he spoke and interacted with his crew. Accurately depicting the comradery, fears and challenges of the men and women of the FDNY (or any firehouse) was front and center in my mind as I researched ‘the job’.

And I did a lot of research. Seriously. If you ever get stuck in an elevator, I’m your girl because I have literally memorized the primary removal procedures of the FDNY. As a writer, it was fascinating, but it was also necessary to give Jax’s thoughts and actions an organic feel. The trick was integrating all that research seamlessly to create a hero who was not only passionate about his work, but kick-ass at leading his crew even, when the odds were stacked against them. I hope readers will see Jax as I do—inspiring and sexy

Throughout my research I read so many stories about firefighters making incredible sacrifices and it was clear to me why the men and women of the FDNY are known as New York’s Bravest. It’s also why I’ve committed to donate 10% of the first month’s sales for Seducing the Fireman to the FDNY Foundation.

About the Book:

Seducing the Fireman by Jennifer Bonds
Book Three of the Risky Business series
Publisher: Entangled Brazen
Publication Date: May 2, 2016

***Warning: this is an adult book, and for the eyes of mature readers***

Summary (from Goodreads):

Firefighter Jackson Hart is back in Brooklyn and on the hunt for the girl who’s kept him burning for ten long years. The girl he left, in a total prick move, without saying goodbye. Now he’s determined to make it right, to hell with her three-date rule.

But Becca’s not ready to forgive and forget. In fact, she seems determined to stoke his fire every chance she gets. She wants to avoid sexy distractions like him? Fine. Because what she doesn’t know—yet—is that Jax isn’t the kind of man to give up when he wants something. And he always gets what he wants.

***10% Of First Month’s Sales Go to the FDNY Foundation***

About the Author:

Jennifer Bonds writes sizzling contemporary romance with sassy heroines, sexy heroes, and a whole lot of mischief. When she's not writing or wrangling toddlers, she can be found curled up with a good book and a bottle of wine. Jennifer lives in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, where her overactive imagination and weakness for reality TV keep life interesting. She's lucky enough to live with her own real life hero, two adorable children, and a pair of rambunctious dogs. Loves Buffy, Mexican food, the Winchester brothers, and all things zombie. Sings off-key.

The Excerpt:

Although Becca’s made it clear she has no interest in rekindling the past, Jax is determined to turn up the heat. And when he crashes Becca’s set in the scene below, the sparks fly…

When he finally found her in a supply closet, she was bent over with her rear in the air, her dark leggings showcasing the perfection of her ass. Not quite what he was expecting, but damn if his cock didn’t swell at the sight. The mental picture of taking her from behind was front and center in his brain as he watched her, eyes glued to her backside.

“Stop staring at my ass,” she said, twisting to confirm her suspicions, “and help me find my phone. I thought I left it on the shelf in here, but I can’t find it. Maybe it fell on the floor?”

She continued to rummage through the boxes and bins on the lower shelves, so he joined her, using his own phone to brighten the dim room as he looked under the rusty shelves. Crawling around in a dirty supply room wasn’t exactly how he imagined spending an evening with the sexy woman beside him, but better him crawling around on the floor than her. Spotting a dark lump beneath the shelving unit, he reached under, hoping like hell he wasn’t about to catch a case of lockjaw for his trouble, and pulled out the phone.

“Got it.”

When he turned to stand, he found Becca right behind him. They collided, his face going straight to her lady bits as her hands tangled in his hair, holding him tight.

They both froze.

The sexual tension in the room was so damn thick they’d need the Jaws of Life to cut through it.

Fuck it.

He gripped her ass, cupping those round cheeks and using them as leverage to pull her close. She remained silent, as if waiting to see what he’d do next. Keeping their bodies flush, he climbed to his feet slowly, savoring the feel of her soft curves against his chest. Their eyes met, and damn if he didn’t want to lose himself in those dark depths. The way she was looking at him, like he was the answer to a prayer she’d never voiced aloud? It nearly stripped him of his restraint. A lesser part of his brain told him to take it slow—the last thing he wanted to do was spook her—but he ignored it, letting instinct take over. Their attraction? It wasn’t cerebral. It was primal.

“Don’t even think about it,” she warned, making no move to separate their bodies, although they stood so close he could feel the rise and fall of her breasts with each breath.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“You know exactly what I’m talking about.” She rolled her eyes and shifted her weight. Was it wishful thinking or had she actually gotten closer? “Don’t be coy.”

“Are you seriously going to pretend you don’t feel that?” He smirked. “The sexual tension in this closet is so thick we’re both drowning in it.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“Now who’s being coy? One word, Becca.” He paused. “Yes. That’s all you have to say.”

The Giveaway:

Grand Prize: A Kindle Fire! 
3 Runner-Ups: A FDNY 2016 Calendar & 1 digital backlist title from Jennifer Bonds

Sweet Talk with the Sweet Sixteens: May 3rd

Welcome to Week Eighteen of Sweet Talk with the Sweet Sixteens! To see more details about Sweet Talk as well as previous posts, see the introduction post. Thanks to Charlene (Bookish Whimsy), for designing the banner and button for Sweet Talk.

Today, I'm featuring the authors and books publishing during the week of May 3rd!

The Questions:

1. Describe your debut novel in sixteen words.
2. Pitch your book! For fans of _____, _____ meets _____, etc.
3. What are you working on now – is it related to your debut novel?

The Authors:

Erin L. Schneider, Author of Summer of Sloane

1. Betrayed by her ex-boyfriend and BFF, Sloane grapples with learning forgiveness over a summer in Hawaii. 

2. For fans of Sarah Ockler and Jandy Nelson, with a little Stephanie Perkins, and Huntley Fitzpatrick thrown in for good measure!

3. No plans as of right now, but a companion novel to SLOANE might be fun! I am working on a new YA contemporary that I've been anxious to write for a while though. 

Follow Erin L. Schneider: Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter

Nanci Turner Steveson, Author of Swing Sideways

1. Two girls learn over one magical summer how secrets, bravery and forgiveness change their lives forever. 

2. If you loved Jess and Leslie in Bridge to Terabithia, you'll love Annie and California and the unlikely friendship they form during one unforgettable summer on a farm in upstate New York. 

3. Another stand alone middle grade novel about a 12 year old girl from Atlanta, Georgia who goes to live in rural Vermont for one year on the farm left to her by the father she never knew. GEORGIA RULES is scheduled to be release summer 2017.

Follow Nanci Turner Steveson: Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter

Ashley Herring Blake, Author of Suffer Love

1. Two teens from families in shambles find each other. But fate has some very interesting plans.

2. For fans of Sarah Dessen and Jenny Han meets Shakespeare.

3. I'm working on what I hope will be my third novel. It's a stand alone, as is SUFFER LOVE and my second novel, HOW TO MAKE A WISH, which will be out in spring of 2017.

Follow Ashley Herring Blake: Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter

Harriet Reuter Hapgood, Author of The Square Root of Summer

1. A weird British book about love, grief and the spacetime continuum with a smorgasbord of boys, baking and kittens.

2. Time Traveller's Wife meets The Sky Is Everywhere. With kittens.

3. Another standalone contemporary-with-a-world-bending twist. I'm researching meteorology, black magic and 90s teen TV.

Follow Harriet Reuter Hapgood: Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Tumblr
Find The Square Root of Summer: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | The Book Depository

The Books:



(Click on the covers to go to Goodreads!)

Other Sweet Sixteens Books Publishing This Week:



(Click on the covers to go to Goodreads!)

The Giveaway:

- Summer of Sloane swag
- Swing Sideways swag
- Suffer Love swag
- The Square Root of Summer swag
- Jerkbait swag
- Everland swag
- Even if the Sky Falls swag

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, May 2, 2016

Review: And I Darken by Kiersten White

And I Darken by Kiersten White
Book One of The Conquerors Saga
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: June 28, 2016
Rating: 4 stars

Source: ARC sent by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads):


And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.

Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, who’s expected to rule a nation, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.

But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.

From New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White comes the first book in a dark, sweeping new series in which heads will roll, bodies will be impaled . . . and hearts will be broken.

What I Liked:

I admit, as excited as I was to read this book, I was also pretty apprehensive. The book is pretty long (the ARC is huge!), and the synopsis definitely makes it sound like there is a love triangle going on. Well, I started the book and found that I could not put it down! It started off a tiny bit slowly, but I love how things picked up. I'll definitely be looking out for the sequel!

Lada is the daughter of Vlad Dragwlya, a fierce, wild, almost crazed young girl who is bloodthirsty and refuses to be tamed. Radu is her brother, younger by a year, gentler, and much more of a softhearted crybaby. Both are forgotten by their parents. Both are deposited to the Ottomans when they are 13 and 12, by their father. But the Ottomans aren't all enemies, as they were taught to believe. Radu finds a friend in Mehmed, a son of the sultan and third heir, and while Lada trusts no one, she comes to be a friend of Mehmed's as well. Years pass, and Lada and Radu grow comfortable in the Ottoman empire. But when Mehmed becomes the heir to the empire, everything changes. There is only war and bloodshed and sacrifices and heartbreak.

About a third (or maybe two-fifths) of this book is spent while Lada and Radu are young. The story starts when Lada is born, and then Radu. And then they are five and four, and their mother leaves them. And then they are eleven and ten, and Radu is just as weak and Lada just as ferocious as ever, And then they are thirteen and twelve, and the story really starts here. When the pair is forced to flee to the Ottomans, and they are left there by the father, their lives change. About five years pass, and the rest of the story goes from there.

Lada is scary! From the beginning of the story, she scared me. She is not afraid to wield a knife or punch a nobleman or sink her teeth into someone (use any weapons necessary, right?). Lada almost seems feral. And as she grows older, her temper and her ferocity do not diminish. But when she is around eighteen (the second half of the story), she becomes more contained in her anger and ferocity, not wild and crazed. It's more of a controlled chaos. So I think I liked Lada a lot more as the story went on - she seems less scary, though she definitely did not lose any intensity. She seemed more human, as the story progressed.

This book is written in third person, alternating between Lada and Radu. Radu is her brother, one year younger, a crybaby and a weak son. Everyone would pick on him and beat him up when he was little, and Lada saved his sorry butt more than once. As he grew up, he still cried way too much, but he also started using his soft nature to win people over. Just as Lada was using harsher, deadlier methods of inspiring fear, Radu began using his kindness to slip into the lives of others. Radu didn't impress me at all, initially, but I think I like him.

Mehmed is one of the sultan's son, and an heir of the Ottoman empire. When his brothers are killed, Mehmed becomes the sole heir, and the politics get hairy. Mehmed is around the same age as Lada, maybe a little older. Mehmed isn't power-hungry like so many rulers of the time, though I could see him becoming so in the future. I think I liked Mehmed, as much as you can like a son of a sultan, who has a harem and the potential to have a million wives and concubines...

The setting is so cool! It's clear to me that White did her research and did it well. She obviously knows her history, as she rewrites it well, but with her own twists. I wonder just how closely she'll stick to the actual history of Mehmed II and Vlad the Impaler (who is Lada, in this case). Anyway, I thought the historical time and place were very detailed!

The romance... okay, the triangle is kind of true. And you can probably tell who the people involved are. It's a triangle but it's not - we have Mehmed who is in love with Lada, and Lada who cares about Mehmed. But Lada is holding back because Mehmed is the son of a sultan - and therefore, Mehmed has a harem. Concubines. The potential for a bazillion wives, concubines, and children with different women. This doesn't sit well with Lada, and so she holds back. I believe Mehmed loves her (he says as much, but I also believe it in general), and I believe that Lada cares deeply for him. I love their romantic scenes together, though the scenes never go far (good for Lada!).

The other "side" to the love triangle is Radu's feelings for Mehmed. Mehmed loves Radu like a friend and brother (that I can tell), but Radu is totally in love with Mehmed. Which is awkward when Lada finds out - she gets jealous and angry. I wonder if Mehmed knows that Radu has feelings for him - probably? But Mehmed clearly only loves Lada, which is why I don't *really* think we're dealing with a love triangle here.

Of course, we could be, later in the series. My personal opinion is that Mehmed doesn't deserve Lada, and Lada should find a nice monogamous man who will satisfy her. 

In any case, the ending got pretty intense, and there was a ton of action in the second half of the book in general. I am kind of in shock at how the book ended - it wasn't too cliffhanger-y, but I'm nervous. I'm hoping that Lada is smart enough to do certain, um, things! I really want the next book ASAP.

What I Did Not Like:

Obviously, the mere mention of a love triangle is going to be a whole star at the least, knocked off. And we clearly have love triangle potential here - what if Mehmed decides he's in love with Radu? I'm 99% sure that won't happen (for several reasons), but you never know these days. But then, I also don't really care to see Lada end up with Mehmed (you'll see why, when you read the book). I actually am really hoping that White introduces a different love interest for Lada. As sizzling as the romantic scenes are between Lada and Mehmed... he's just not good enough for her. But then, I don't think Radu is either (and I'm 99% sure Mehmed is not only NOT gay, but he's totally in love with Lada). Ahhh, love triangles. Even this kind of love triangle makes me mad.

Would I Recommend It:

Hold off, if you're a love-triangle-hater (like myself - so I probably should have held off). I think the story is REALLY cool and enjoyable, and the setting and retelling are really well written. It's probably a book/series worth reading in general, but maybe when all of the books are published. This pesky non-linear romance is holding the story back, in my opinion.


3.5 stars. I'm rounding up to 4 stars, but my true rating is 3.5 stars. I liked the book a lot, but I wish I felt more certain and less conflicted about the romance. I don't even really think this love interest is a good one, for Lada! But besides the romance, I think the book was good. Definitely worth pursuing the sequel!

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