Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

A weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine

Title: The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue
Author: Mackenzi Lee
Published: June 27, 2017 by Balzar + Bray (HarperCollins)

Synopsis: An unforgettable tale of two friends on their Grand Tour of 18th-century Europe who stumble upon a magical artifact that leads them from Paris to Venice in a dangerous manhunt, fighting pirates, highwaymen, and their feelings for each other along the way.

Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his grand tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

Witty, romantic, and intriguing at every turn, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is a sumptuous romp that explores the undeniably fine lines between friendship and love.

Why I'm Waiting:

I really loved Mackenzi's debut, This Monstrous Thing! It was one of my favorite debuts of 2015 and that was a year full of amazing debuts for me. It was a really fantastic retelling too. I loved how the author played around with the original story of Frankenstein, the historical setting, and the fact that she added characters like Mary Shelley herself. I've been excited to see what Mackenzi has up her sleeve next and I am so pumped for this book.

For one thing I love the fact that it's historical fiction set during throughout Europe in the 18th Century. I'm not a huge fan of road trip stories but I love the idea of a Grand Tour. I've read some classics that involve something similar which I have enjoyed so I'm interested to see a more modern take on the concept.

But I'm even more interested in this because of the LGBT romances. There is not a lot of historical fiction with LGBT elements and it's not a new concept so I'm excited to explore it from that perspective. It usually makes for interesting character development and even more interesting conflicts because of the views of gays and lesbians at the time. I think Mackenzi will do a great job with it too.

I'm also really interested in this book because reading the synopsis I think there is going to be some really interesting adventures. Like I said, I'm not a huge fan of road trips but I love manhunts, pirates, highwaymen, and hedonism. I'm excited. 

What about you? What are you waiting for this Wednesday? Are you waiting on The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue along with me? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Authors I Can't Believe I've Had Awkward Conversations With

A weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

So I have not met a ton of authors but after three BEAs and a few author events I have met my fair share of favorites and fantastic authors. It's always super strange talking to them. I want to say something and preferably something more than "I like your book." So after awhile I realized that I am super awkward. Like I always say super embarrassing things. Either I fangirl like an idiot or I just say dumb stuff. So I then decided I wanted to be awkward on purpse. So here are some  authors I've said weird stuff to. In order of least awkward to most.

12.) Ernest Cline

I met Ernest Cline at BEA in 2015 and I fangirled like a moron. I mean I think he was mostly flattered and appreciated it though. I told him that I loved Ready Player One so much and that I read it at a time where I was first blogging and it really resonated with me.

11.) Anna Banks

Anna Banks came to Pittsburgh as part of the Fierce Reads tour. When she was presenting she talked about how she writes in her bathtub so afterwards I went to get the book signed and told her I read in my bathtub fully clothed with no water involved. She goes "see, she gets it!"

10.) Alexandra Bracken

I met Alex at my first two BEAs. The first year I met her I told her how much I liked The Darkest Minds series and that I ship Chubs and Vida so hard because I feel like they have great banter and that they get each other. We talked about them for a bit. The next year I thanked her for that ship sailing.

9.) Jay Kristoff

I met Jay at BEA last year and everyone was going up to him and taking pictures with him on his knees because he's so tall. I went up to him and was like "hey, I'm also tall so I want to stand back to back with you." In the picture I'm grinning like an idiot he's got a Charlie's Angel's finger gun. We didn't coordinate very well

8.) Rainbow Rowell

I mostly can't believe I wasn't more awkward with Rainbow Rowell when she came to Pittsburgh. I am seriously obsessed with her and tried to meet her at two BEAs. But during her talk she mentioned how she was reading The Magicians series and I love that so much I started talking about it with her and she yelled at me not to spoil anything.

7.) Libba Bray

Libba I met twice and both times were super positive. The first time I met her I reminded her that we talked about how I wanted her to narrate my life and she agreed so she should start now and the second time I took a picture and she said we needed no filter because we already had the pretty filter.

6.) Eion Colfer

I wet Eion at BEA last year. He looked at me and goes, "I like your nose ring. Did it hurt?" So I told him no not really and these days I forget it exists. He turns to his publicist and says "I think I should get that, it would look cool." She looked at me terrified as if I had opened up a can of worms she now had to close.

5.) Ann M. Martin

Ann came to Pittsburgh on tour to talk about her new book and I had just started listening to the Babysitter's Club Club podcast. Of course I had to ask her about it. She had heard about it but hadn't listened to it. I informed her that it's very funny and that they think Stoneybrook is a hive of bees.

And an awkward picture too!
4.) Maggie Steifvater

I've met Maggie three times now. The first time I hadn't read the book and the third time was at BEA and everyone kept skipping in front of me with their cut the line pass. But the second time was the best. I told her she could write anything she wanted in my book. Like "Fuckweasel or whatever." Guess what my copy of Blue Lily, Lily Blue says.

The moment Leigh saw my name
3.) Leigh Bardugo

Leigh Bardugo I've met twice. The first time I told her about how I read Ruin and Rising in my dry bathtub, fully closed because I was so nervous that was the only place I felt safe. Then the following year she complimented my name and said I sound like a badass steampunk heroine. So Leigh is in the middle because once awkward, once awesome.

2.) Lev Grossman
I met Lev at my very fist BEA and I was so surprised The Magician's Land was there and he was signing. When it was my turn to get the book signed I made a complete idiot of myself. Not only did I mention a spoiler for The Magician King but I was so over-eager he looked at me equal parts confused and worried.

1.) Gregory Maguire

And the absolute most awkward was Gregory Maguire. I've met him three times now and it's gotten progressively more awkward. The last time was the best. I told him "Wow, this is our third time meeting in two years, we have to stop meeting like this, people are getting suspicious." He did not laugh.

There you go. All the authors that I have met and had awkward conversations with. If I am being entirely honest a lot of this was because of my fangirling. This may be a list of my favorite authors I've met. I mean there are a few I've met which I may or may not have had awkward conversations with them too. Like Marissa Meyer, Susan Dennard, and Julie Murphy. I must have been awkward I just can't remember how. Also, honorable mention to all the authors who I said "just a signature is fine," because that is always awkward.

Anyway this is a pretty good list. Which favorite authors have you met? Have you had any awkward interactions with authors? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Monday, March 27, 2017

ARC Review: A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi & Audiobook Clip

Title: A Crown of Wishes
Series: The Star-Touched Queen #2
Written by: Roshani Chokshi
Published: March 28, 2017 by St. Martin's Press (Macmillan)

(Amazon / Goodreads / Audible)

Synopsis: Gauri, the princess of Bharata, has been taken as a prisoner of war by her kingdom’s enemies. Faced with a future of exile and scorn, Gauri has nothing left to lose. Hope unexpectedly comes in the form of Vikram, the cunning prince of a neighboring land and her sworn enemy kingdom. Unsatisfied with becoming a mere puppet king, Vikram offers Gauri a chance to win back her kingdom in exchange for her battle prowess. Together, they’ll have to set aside their differences and team up to win the Tournament of Wishes—a competition held in a mythical city where the Lord of Wealth promises a wish to the victor. 

Reaching the tournament is just the beginning. Once they arrive, danger takes on new shapes: poisonous courtesans and mischievous story birds, a feast of fears and twisted fairy revels. 

Every which way they turn new trials will test their wit and strength. But what Gauri and Vikram will soon discover is that there’s nothing more dangerous than what they most desire.

*** I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This fact has not changed my opinion. ***

Wow, I really like this book. I didn't expect to like it as much as I did after not loving The Star-Touched Queen as much as I was expecting. But A Crown of Wishes is an amazing YA fantasy and if you ask me, better than it's predecessor.

A Crown of Wishes tells the story or Gauri and Vikram. I really loved the way that the book alternated perspectives between the two main characters. You got to know them and like them so much more because you saw them through the other person's eyes and their own. It made for complex and compelling characterizations for sure. Both characters also have one similarity and that is their desire to gain control of their kingdoms. Gauri is an intense and determined character and I am so glad we not only got to see her in action but also learn more about her. Vikram is an intelligent and resourceful character with a great sense of humor. I really liked both of them and became invested in their story throughout the book.

And as nice as they were apart they were also pretty fantastic together. For one thing they made a really great team. They worked well together and brought the best (and sometimes the worst) out in each other. It started out reluctant and a little adversarial but even that was great. Because the banter here is top notch. I also actually liked the way the romance developed too. It seemed slow and steady and by the time it came together I was interested. That is not always the case for me but here it definitely was.

But I think the main difference between this book and The Star-Touched Queen and this one, and the main reason I liked it more was the plot development. This book for one was definitely fast-paced. The stakes were incredibly high and there were so many thrilling action scenes that had me on the edge of my seat flipping pages to find out what was going to happen. And the book also slowly built to a thrilling conclusion that had me shocked, enthralled, and full of feels. It was definitely engaging from the plot perspective.

I also really liked the world building here. That was my favorite part of The Star-Touched Queen and it was one of the best parts of A Crown of Wishes as well. In this this book not only did we get to return to some of the places we got to know in the first book like the kingdom of Bharata but also places of more fantasy like The Night Market. We also got to explore some new places. I really like Alaka. It was a fantasy world full of magic and mystery but also dangers and adventure. Roshani definitely knows how to create a fascinating world and her writing is so descriptive that you can visualize it perfectly. It helped immerse me in the world.

I was sent an audiobook for review by the publisher and I have to say, that is the perfect format for this series. Roshani's writing is so lyrical and descriptive that it comes alive via audiobook. Plus the narrator did a great job not only setting the scene but also creating the characters. The accents were distinct and fit with the characterizations. If you like audiobooks I would recommend this one for sure. And I have a treat for the audiobook fans in the room. At the end of this review is a preview clip of the audio. Check it out and then get the audio yourself when it goes on sale tomorrow!

But on the whole, I would recommend this book even if you don't like audiobooks. It's a really great story and I liked it even more than the first book in the series. Partially because it's more up my aller and partially because it's a thrilling and interesting YA fantasy with great characters and an exciting plot.

I give A Crown of Wished by Roshani Chokshi 9.5 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy. You definitely need to pick up a copy of this book. If you like The Star-Touched Queen you will be excited to return to the world and even if you didn't you will probably still enjoy Gauri and Vikram's story. I know I did.

Have you read A Crown of Wishes? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Audiobook Review: Yes Please by Amy Poehler

Title: Yes Please
Written by: Amy Poehler
Published: October 28, 2014 by Dey Street (HarperCollins)

(Amazon / Goodreads / Audible)

Synopsis: Do you want to get to know the woman we first came to love on Comedy Central's Upright Citizens Brigade? Do you want to spend some time with the lady who made you howl with laughter on Saturday Night Live, and in movies like Baby Mama, Blades of Glory, and They Came Together? Do you find yourself daydreaming about hanging out with the actor behind the brilliant Leslie Knope on Parks and Recreation? Did you wish you were in the audience at the last two Golden Globes ceremonies, so you could bask in the hilarity of Amy's one-liners? 

If your answer to these questions is "Yes Please!" then you are in luck. In her first book, one of our most beloved funny folk delivers a smart, pointed, and ultimately inspirational read. Full of the comedic skill that makes us all love Amy, Yes Please is a rich and varied collection of stories, lists, poetry (Plastic Surgery Haiku, to be specific), photographs, mantras and advice. With chapters like "Treat Your Career Like a Bad Boyfriend," "Plain Girl Versus the Demon" and "The Robots Will Kill Us All" Yes Please will make you think as much as it will make you laugh. Honest, personal, real, and righteous, Yes Please is full of words to live by.

I have been a fan of Amy Poehler since her SNL days. I feel like her humor just hits me in all the right places. Plus Parks and Rec is one of my all-time favorite shows. I kind of feel like I live that show in my current job as a community organizer for an environmental non-profit. It's been super surreal sometimes. Anyway, when I had heard she had written a memoir I knew I wanted to read it. And despite picking up the audiobook awhile ago, I never got around to reading it or listening to it. But as I was thinking about needing a book for the Rock My TBR challenge and wanting an audiobook I came across this one and I'm so glad I did.

For one thing this book reminded me just how much I love celebrity memoirs. A few years back these were some of my favorite things to read and listen to especially when it came to the ones by funny ladies like Tina Fey, Mindy Kalling, and Sarah Silverman. I very rarely read non-fiction but if I loved these kinds of books. I think I like them because you can see an actress or comedian and see yourself a little bit in them. They can be likable and relatable in an interesting way. But nothing backs that up more by hearing their real life stories and finding yourself in them.

That's exactly what happened here. Now obviously I cannot relate fully to Amy Poehler when she shares stories of motherhood, divorce, or working on SNL but there is still just something so relatable about her. But there is just something so fantastic about Amy's sense of humor. It's a little spastic and in your face while also being silly and intelligent. I'm not sure I laughed out loud at times like I have for some of these memoirs but I was thoroughly entertained.

Particularly I loved Amy's stories about her career. She talked a lot about her early standup days, how Upright Citizen's Brigade was founded, her time on SNL, and of course her work on Parks and Rec. I loved hearing each and every story. The stuff on SNL was so interesting because Amy definitely didn't hold back. She shared some of her best stories and things she is proud of but also some really embarassing moments. I definitely felt like she showed what it was like to be a part of all of that. I also really enjoyed her stories about Parks and Rec. There was a great chapter where she talked about the creation with Mike Shur and where she went through each of the actors on the show with her and sharing info and stories about them. As a big fan of the show it was worth the read just for that.

And of course I have to talk a bit about the audiobook. I listened to this instead of reading it and I think that was absolutely the right way to go. Amy narrates it herself with the help of people like Seth Meyers, Mike Shur, her parents, and even Carol Burnett and Kathleen Turner. It is definitely amazing in this format. You get the humor and emotion so much more when you hear Amy tell the story of her life. I know her from her acting and so hearing that voice just added so much more familiarity and fun to the book. Plus it was just amazing as an audio. If you are looking for something for a road trip I would definitely suggest this.

I give Yes Please by Amy Poehler 9 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy. If you like celebrity memoirs especially those from funny ladies you should totally read this. And I would without a doubt recommend it to fans of Parks and Rec or Amy Poehler on the whole. The audiobook is fantastic and the memoir is fantastic. I really wish I didn't wait to read this but I'm glad I took the time.

Have you read Yes Please? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Discussion Posts: What Makes You Comment?

Hi Everyone,
When thinking about what to write about in my monthly discussion post I had one idea. I've been thinking a lot about blog comments lately. I'm not sure why. Maybe because I feel like the comments over here have been down lately. Now don't get me wrong, I never did get a ton of comments but I could usually count on each post to get one or two and if I was really lucky four or five. But these days I feel like I am lucky if I get two comments on my posts. And it doesn't matter if it's a review, a discussion post, or a meme comments are down.

One thing I want to say before I go any further is that it's not like I expect comments. There is nothing that mandates people comment on my post. I mean there is nothing saying that people have to read my posts. It's nice when they do one of those things but it's especially nice if you do both. Seeing comments is the best way to validate that you read and liked a person's post. It shows them that "I was here and something resonated." So even though I know there is nothing saying people have to comment I can't help but feel like maybe my posts aren't as good or maybe people aren't reading them as much. I know that's not true and I'm a Ravenclaw and therefore a logical thinker so let's break it down to make me feel better.

Why Do I Comment?

I have to take a second to think about the reason that I might comment on a post. And there are any number of reasons why I might comment on a post. By far I think the posts I comment most on are memes like Top Ten Tuesday and Waiting on Wednesday. I think this is normal. The whole point of this is to connect people throughout the blogosphere and it definitely does. Then I think I am more likely to comment on reviews for books that I have read. I think when I read a review of a book I have read there is a tendency to add something akin to "me too." I want to add things like "I also found the pacing slow" or "I know they didn't work for you but I liked the characters."

I also tend to comment on the posts written by my blogger friends. There are just some blogs that you read every day or every time that they post. Maybe it's because you really like what they have to say or maybe it's because you really like them as people. I know cliches are bad but friendship is good, right? Over the years I've developed some good relationships with fellow bloggers. These are often the people whose blogs I like and reviews I trust. So when I see that they have a new post I will definitely read it and I want to support them by adding my two cents.

I will also sometimes comment back to people who commented to me. Now admittedly I am not very good at this. If I see someone has commented (whether they are an old follower or a new one) I usually forget to check out their site and to say something. And sometimes I will go to their site and not have anything to comment on. I can comment on anything but as statated above, I prefer to comment on books I have read so I can say "me too" instead of saying "I want to read this, it sounds really good." Which to be entirely honest is stupid. Some of my favorite comments are people saying that I convinced them to read the book I was reviewing. I should try to be better about this.

Why Wouldn't I Comment?

Well, again there are a few reasons why I might not comment on something. For one I think you have probably figured out that I wouldn't comment on a post if I have no interest in reading the book. We all have different tastes which is totally fine. It's one of the best things about this crazy blogosphere that you can find all kinds of different people and reviews. But if I see a post from someone that is about like an adult romance I am not going to read it and therefore not going to comment.

But the weirdest reason is if I haven't read the book but want to. These are often reviews I will read but not comment on. Maybe because I think I have nothing meaningful to say. Like often I will read multiple reviews for the same book, especially if it's a hyped up book just to see what different people are saying. Because as stated, different people have different opinions. But you can only say "I can't wait to read this book. Great review!" so many times.

I also read recently that the amount of engagement matters, I can't remember who wrote a post talking about this. It's frustrating me because it's one of the reasons why I decided to do this discussion. But last week someone said something about people are least likely to comment on posts with a lot of comments or ones with no comments. And this I think is true for me. When a post already has a ton of comments I think that I can't add anything else and I don't comment. But at the same time if there are no comments I don't want to be the first. But isn't that a thing on YouTube. People are always trying to be the first to comment. We should get more like that.

What About People Commenting For Me?

Well, if I am operating under the assumptions that people comment similar to me than I can come to a few conclusions. For one, I need to explore more and comment more. The best way to get comments and expand the interactions is to make the first move. I'm definitely not very good at this and should get better. I also would like to start finding some more blogs. When I first started I was all about finding that awesome new blog that could share some insight I didn't have and talk about books that I also loved and hated. I've gotten away from that.

I also think that other that that there isn't much else I can do. I know that reviews never get that many comments. I shouldn't really be upset if a review doesn't get any comments. But I can't help but feel like I'm doing something wrong. If people are like me and they prefer to comment on books that they have read and/or are new to them then I guess I could share some different books with people. But honestly there have been some books that I thought would be really popular like The Song Rising, To All the Boys I Loved Before, and A Conjuring of Light that didn't get many comments. But maybe I could read some different kinds of books that are either really popular or new to people.

But for the most part I'm just curious about what makes you comment on a post? What would encourage you to comment more? What about your posts? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

A Crown of Wishes Blog Tour: Interview with Author Roshani Chokshi

Hi Everyone:
I am so excited to be sharing with you my stop on the second blog tour of the week. This one is for A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi. I really liked The Star-Touched Queen but I wanted more from the world so I was pumped to see that there was more coming in this companion novel. I'm currently reading the book and loving it so far. Look out for my review on Friday.

But first I have an interview with the author, Roshani Chokshi. If you were around last year you may have listened to my podcast interview with her back when Britt and I were still trying out or podcast. If you haven't listened to it, check it out here. I asked some similar and follow up questions so definitely check that out, plus it's a longer interview.

But before that, let's get into the this book and the interview...

Title: A Crown of Wishes
Series: The Star-Touched Queen #2
Written by: Roshani Chokshi
Published: March 28, 2016 by St Martin's Griffin (Macmillan)
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Gauri, the princess of Bharata, has been taken as a prisoner of war by her kingdom’s enemies. Faced with a future of exile and scorn, Gauri has nothing left to lose. Hope unexpectedly comes in the form of Vikram, the cunning prince of a neighboring land and her sworn enemy kingdom. Unsatisfied with becoming a mere puppet king, Vikram offers Gauri a chance to win back her kingdom in exchange for her battle prowess. Together, they’ll have to set aside their differences and team up to win the Tournament of Wishes—a competition held in a mythical city where the Lord of Wealth promises a wish to the victor. 

Reaching the tournament is just the beginning. Once they arrive, danger takes on new shapes: poisonous courtesans and mischievous story birds, a feast of fears and twisted fairy revels. 

Every which way they turn new trials will test their wit and strength. But what Gauri and Vikram will soon discover is that there’s nothing more dangerous than what they most desire. 

Interview with Roshani

1. Can you describe A Crown of Wishes book in 10 words or less?

Roshani: Enemies-to-lovers romance with a dash of magic.

Sounds good to me.

2. How was writing A Crown of Wishes different than writing your debut

RC: Writing under a contractual deadline vs. “letting a story simmer and roll around in your thoughts for 4+ years” is bound to be a VASTLY different experience. I treated my outline religiously with ACOW. The editing process with my first book taught me to reconsider everything I knew about storytelling—when to hold back, when to give a little, when to move on. I think the main difference with ACOW was its forward sense of momentum. I’d never cried over scenes until I wrote ACOW. I mean, I’d cried in the sense of frustration, but not in the sense that a book’s character had put me through the emotional wringer because of their situations. To me, Gauri and Vikram became people that I could spot in a crowd. They became family.

That's really interesting. I guess the more time you spend with a character the more connected you get with them. It's been two books with Gauri and Vikram so maybe you are more connected. Or maybe they go through more intense experiences. I'll have to read to find out.

3. This book is a companion novel to The Star-Touched Queen. Are you as excited to return to the world of that book as us readers are?

RC: Of course! It’s always incredible to dive back into a world one thought was old only to discover that it is, in fact, new.

I thought you would say something like that. I'm sure it was exciting and like riding a bike again.

4. A Crown of Wishes is about Gauri. Did you always know you'd want to tell her story, or did something about her story feel untold to you after you finished writing The Star-Touched Queen?

RC: Yes. Gauri’s story had always had a special place in my heart. I left her story purposely unfinished so that I could follow that emotional thread in ACOW.

Cool! I'm excited for you to finish her story. I found her so mysterious and fascinating in The Star-Touched Queen so I'm excited to learn more.

5. Do you have a favorite scene? One that you are excited for the readers to experience? (No spoilers, of course).

RC: I have a tiny gender-swapped beauty and the beast nod in a particular scene that I’m very proud of. I hope readers find it as entertaining and grisly as I do!

That sounds fun. I was actually just thinking how I wanted a gender-swapped Beauty and the Beast. Now I'll need to hunt for the reference. ALSO, super hoping that the female in question is Kamala because I love her!

6. This book is about wishes so obviously I have to ask, what would you wish for if you won the Tournament of Wishes?

I would wish for no need of wishes, with the condition that I’m not killed or incapacitated. 

7. Which of your characters would you want trapped on a deserted is and with you?

RC: Amar…(spoiler for TSTQ, but Death is an omnipresent thing, so I think he’d be able to whisk me out of a deserted island pretty quick)

Amar would be good for the whisking. I'd probably pick Kamala because she's fun. But if things don't go well she might end up eating me. (Kamala is a demon horse who threatens to eat people in case you didn't know).

8. What are you working on now? What's your next book going to be about?

RC: My next YA project is THE GILDED WOLVES. It’s a dark, sultry, ish-heist story set in the glamorous La Belle Epoque era of Paris. I love it to pieces, and I can’t wait for readers to meet the characters and world!

There you have it. I hope you enjoyed that.  Make sure to come back on Monday when I review the audiobook for A Crown of Wishes. Also, doesn't The Gilded Wolves sound amazing? Dark, heist story set in La Belle Epoque Paris. I want to read that real bad.

Are you excited about A Crown of Wishes? Have you already read it? What did you think? Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Blog Tour: Night Witches by Kathryn Lasky Review & Giveaway

Hi Everyone,
I'm really excited to be taking part in the blog tour for Night Witches. I actually first learned about this book when I got the email about the tour and my first thought was "HOW AM I JUST LEARNING ABOUT THIS BOOK!" I absolutely knew I needed to read it. So I was incredibly excited to be selected to be on the tour and for the opportunity to read and review the book. So, let's not waste any more time and tell you about the book and share my thoughts.
About the Book:
Author: Kathryn Lasky
Pub. Date: March 28, 2017
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Pages: 224
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook

From bestselling and award-winning author Kathryn Lasky comes an explosive adventure following the teen girl fighter pilots who took on Hitler's army . . . and won.

Fifteen-year-old Valya knows what it feels like to fly. She's a pilot who's always felt more at home soaring through the sky than down on earth. But since the Germans surrounded Stalingrad, Valya's been forced to stay on the ground and watch her city crumble.

When her mother is killed during the siege, Valya is left with one burning desire: to join up with her older sister, a member of the famous and feared Night Witches -- a brigade of young female pilots.

Using all her wits, Valya manages to get past the German blockade and find the Night Witches' base . . . and that's when the REAL danger starts. The women have been assigned a critical mission. If they succeed, they'll inflict serious damage on the Nazis. If they fail, they'll face death . . . or even worse horrors.

Historical fiction master Lasky sheds light on the war's unsung heroes -- daredevil girls who took to the skies to fight for their country -- in an action-packed thrill ride that'll leave you electrified and breathless. 

My Review:

*** I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This fact has not changed my opinion. ****

When I first learned about this book I knew that I needed to read it. It's totally up my alley. I'm a huge fan of historical fiction and I love unique kinds of WWII stories and books set in Russia. I got all of these things in the course of this book. It was everything I hoped it would be and a really fantastic and engaging read.

Part of what I really liked about this book was the fact that it's a book about World War II that felt both unique and familiar. Most books I have read about WWII take place in Germany, France, or Poland. I don't think I've ever read one set in Russia and I really enjoyed that. It showed a different side of a familiar period in history. It felt exciting and new while adding complexity to something I feel like I know about. And that to me is exactly what I want in historical fiction. I learned something and I was entertained. The author did a great job in establishing the setting and immersing the reader in it.

But World War II wasn't just the setting for the book, it was also the plot. And I really enjoyed the plot as well. It's definitely a story about war as the character is taken from her home to become a soldier. It's a book about fighter pilots and soldiers. That in and of itself was interesting with plenty of action and daring battles. Plus this book doesn't hold back when it comes to portraying war. It definitely shows some of the more brutal aspects not only for those who are fighting but also for those on the homefront. There are some brutal moments in this book and they helped to establish the setting as well as the plot.

It's also a really fast-paced story. It's short and doesn't take long to read (I finished it in a day) because you do become invested in the story and don't want to stop reading. But you also can really power through it. I usually prefer my books to slowly build to a thrilling conclusion and while there was an exciting ending here it didn't slowly build. It had a handful of smaller climaxes that felt connected but still independent of one another. There is no specific plot and at times it does make for a story that felt a little disconnected but for the setting and plot that did kind of work. When you're dealing with a war, it's not just one thing, it's a one thing right after another.

I also enjoyed the characters here. The main character of Valya was incredibly likable and easy to connect with. For a lot of the book she is constantly underestimated and incredibly determined to fight for her homeland and to be useful in a way she knows she can be. I really liked that about her and it made her a great protagonist. There were also plenty of great secondary characters. I particularly liked the relationship Valya had with her sister Tatyana. You can tell they cared about one another but they still argued in a very sisterly way. I also liked some of the other Night Witches like Valya's friends Mara and Galya. Many of the characters weren't huge parts of the story but I still became emotionally attached to them and found myself concerned about what would and did happen to them. It's a good sign when you connect with a character without even realizing it. (Also, shout out to there not really being a romance!)

All in all, Night Witches was a really good historical fiction young adult novel. It had a setting that was engaging and interesting, a plot that was full of action and adventure, and characters you can connect with.

I give Night Witches by Kathryn Lasky 8.5 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy. I would absolutely recommend this book to fans of historical fiction especially if you like books set during World War II. But even if you aren't a fan of the genre the book is still engaging and interesting.

About Kathryn:
Kathryn Lasky is the American author of many critically acclaimed books, including several Dear America books, several Royal Diaries books, 1984 Newbery Honor winning Sugaring Time, The Night Journey, and the Guardians of Ga'Hoole series.
She was born June 24, 1944, and grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana, and is married to Christopher Knight, with whom she lives in Massachusetts.

Book 15,  The War of the Ember, is currently the last book in the Ga'Hoole seriesThe Rise of a Legendis the 16th book but is a prequel to the series. Lasky has also written Guide Book To The Great Tree and Lost Tales Of Ga'Hoole which are companion books.

Giveaway Details:

3 winners will receive a finished copy of NIGHT WITCHES, US Only.

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Tour Schedule:

Week One:
3/20/2017- The Best Books Ever - Excerpt
3/21/2017- My Thoughts LiterallyReview
3/22/2017- Wandering Bark BooksGuest Post
3/23/2017- La La in the LibraryReview
3/24/2017- YA Books CentralInterview

Week Two:
3/27/2017- QuartzfeatherReview
3/28/2017- BookHounds YAGuest Post
3/29/2017- Under the Book CoverReview
3/30/2017- Bibliobibuli YAInterview

3/31/2017- History from a Woman's PerspectiveReview

Thank you to Rockstar Book Tours for having me on the Blog Tour for Night Witches. Have you read Night Witches? What did you think? What are your favorite books set during World War II. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!