Thursday, January 19, 2017

Heartstone by Elle Katharine White {Blog tour excerpt + Giveaway!}

Welcome, welcome to my stop on the Heartstone Blog Tour! Today I'm featuring an except from debut author Elle Katharine White's fantasy adventure, Heartstone (a Pride and Prejudice retelling with dragons!) along with a chance to snag one of three copies in the tour-wide giveaway! Read on!


by Elle Katharine White
♦publisher: Harper Voyager
♦release date: January 17, 2017
♦paperback, 352 pages
A debut historical fantasy that recasts Jane Austen’s beloved Pride and Prejudice in an imaginative world of wyverns, dragons, and the warriors who fight alongside them against the monsters that threaten the kingdom: gryphons, direwolves, lamias, banshees, and lindworms.

They say a Rider in possession of a good blade must be in want of a monster to slay—and Merybourne Manor has plenty of monsters.

Passionate, headstrong Aliza Bentaine knows this all too well; she’s already lost one sister to the invading gryphons. So when Lord Merybourne hires a band of Riders to hunt down the horde, Aliza is relieved her home will soon be safe again.

Her relief is short-lived. With the arrival of the haughty and handsome dragonrider, Alastair Daired, Aliza expects a battle; what she doesn’t expect is a romantic clash of wills, pitting words and wit against the pride of an ancient house. Nor does she anticipate the mystery that follows them from Merybourne Manor, its roots running deep as the foundations of the kingdom itself, where something old and dreadful slumbers . . . something far more sinister than gryphons.

It’s a war Aliza is ill-prepared to wage, on a battlefield she’s never known before: one spanning kingdoms, class lines, and the curious nature of her own heart.

Elle Katharine White infuses elements of Austen’s beloved novel with her own brand of magic, crafting a modern epic fantasy that conjures a familiar yet wondrously unique new world.

~Excerpt~
The dragon’s wings stretched the length of the field, and talons the size of plowshares scoured the earth where it landed. Pewter scales shone with a bluish-gold luster where the sun hit its sides, and I longed for a canvas and some paints to capture the sight, my fear forgotten.
A broad-shouldered figure leapt from the dragon’s back.
“You there!”
The Rider’s voice tore me away from the strokes of my mental paintbrush. I reddened as he approached and tried to wipe some of the mud from my dress, succeeding only in smudging it farther down the front. The contrast between us grew clearer—and more painful—with each step. Tooled in gold across the Rider’s breastplate was the rampant figure of a dragon, the symbol of House Daired, and on the hilt of the sword slung over his shoulder I caught the bloodred glimmer of a lamia’s heartstone. As my younger sister Mari once told me, the serpentine, scythe-wielding monsters called lamias were one of the Tekari, sworn foes of humankind. A lamia’s heartstone would be a worthy pommel gem for a Daired’s blade.
My gaze trailed from his heartstone to his face, and a new chill ran through me, though this one wasn’t so much fear as a healthy dose of embarrassment.
Blast. He would be handsome.
Of course, he could’ve looked like the wrong side of a troll and his appearance would’ve still made me blush. By rights this Daired shouldn’t have been here at all. Merybourne Manor sat at the heart of a poor county, the smallest in the island kingdom of Arle. Lord Merybourne ruled over farmers, craftspeople, and the occasional merchant, but no one rich or distinguished, and it’d taken us months to scrounge enough to meet the bond-price for a band of Riders.
My father, the Manor clerk and an old friend of Lord Merybourne, had spent weeks running the sums to see how we could afford it. Five Riders, five mounts, and food and lodging for a fort-night, in return for which they’d hunt down and slay the gryphon horde that plagued us. At twenty silver dragonbacks per Rider, the commission cost the Manor a total of one hundred dragonbacks. 
Or, by my more practical calculation, the entire income of Merybourne Manor in a year.



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•ABOUT THE AUTHOR•

Elle was born and raised in Buffalo, NY, where she learned valuable life skills like how to clear a snowy driveway in under twenty minutes (a lot easier than you think) and how to cheer for the perennial underdog (a lot harder than you think).


When she's not writing she spends her time reading, drinking absurd amounts of tea, having strong feelings about fictional characters, and doing her best to live with no regrets.

Connect with her on Facebook at @ellewhite.author, or witness the hilarious spectacle that is a writer contending with the 140-character limit on Twitter at @elle_k_writes.


Purchase The Graces:  Indiebound  •  BookDepository  •  Amazon


*GIVEAWAY*
Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance at one of 3 finished copies !

•US mailing address only please

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Be sure to drop by all the other tour stops for Heartstone!

Week One:
1/9/2017- YA Book NerdInterview         
1/10/2017- Seeing Double In Neverland Review
1/11/2017- Novel NoviceGuest Post     
1/12/2017- What the Cat ReadReview 
1/13/2017- Two Chicks on BooksInterview        

Week Two:
1/16/2017- Fiction Fare Review
1/17/2017- The Eater of Books!Excerpt
1/18/2017- History from a Woman's PerspectiveReview             
1/19/2017- Stories & Sweeties- Excerpt
1/20/2017- The Book NutReview 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It lets us all gush about what soon-to-be released books we are jumping-up-and-down excited for.

by Anna-Marie McLemore

hitting shelves September 26th, 2017
from Feiwel & Friends
For nearly a century, the Nomeolvides women have tended the grounds of La Pradera, the lush estate gardens that enchant guests from around the world. They’ve also hidden a tragic legacy: if they fall in love too deeply, their lovers vanish. But then, after generations of vanishings, a strange boy appears in the gardens.

The boy is a mystery to Estrella, the Nomeolvides girl who finds him, and to her family, but he’s even more a mystery to himself; he knows nothing more about who he is or where he came from than his first name. As Estrella tries to help Fel piece together his unknown past, La Pradera leads them to secrets as dangerous as they are magical in this stunning exploration of love, loss, and family.
 

My thoughts:  Though I've somehow never gotten around to reading a book by this author, all of her books sound like something that I would absolutely love: magic and atmosphere and just a little on the bizarre side.  This one is no exception---it sounds so amazing! And that cover...wow. I'm in love with the title font and all the color.  

What book are you eagerly anticipating this week?

Friday, January 13, 2017

Timekeeper by Tara Sim {review + giveaway}

Timekeeper
by Tara Sim
♦publisher: Sky Pony Press
♦release date: November 8th, 2017
♦hardcover, 414 pages
♦intended audience: Young adult
♦series: Timekeeper, book 1
♦source: from publisher for honest review
Two o’clock was missing. 

In an alternate Victorian world controlled by clock towers, a damaged clock can fracture time—and a destroyed one can stop it completely.

It’s a truth that seventeen-year-old clock mechanic Danny Hart knows all too well; his father has been trapped in a Stopped town east of London for three years. Though Danny is a prodigy who can repair not only clockwork, but the very fabric of time, his fixation with staging a rescue is quickly becoming a concern to his superiors.

And so they assign him to Enfield, a town where the tower seems to be forever plagued with problems. Danny’s new apprentice both annoys and intrigues him, and though the boy is eager to work, he maintains a secretive distance. Danny soon discovers why: he is the tower’s clock spirit, a mythical being that oversees Enfield’s time. Though the boys are drawn together by their loneliness, Danny knows falling in love with a clock spirit is forbidden, and means risking everything he’s fought to achieve.

But when a series of bombings at nearby towers threaten to Stop more cities, Danny must race to prevent Enfield from becoming the next target or he’ll not only lose his father, but the boy he loves, forever.

Review: This book was an absolute charmer. Even if you're eyeing this book thinking to yourself, 'I don't really like steampunk'---I still think anyone would really enjoy this one. I love steampunk stories, but only when it's not too too longwinded with the mechanical details, then I tend to get bored. But Timekeeper is what I'd call "steampunk-light". :) Just detailed enough that you get a perfect visual of the cool clockwork, plus it actually focuses more on the magical side of things, the spirit of the clock, and how the clocktowers and time are entwined. It was perfect. 

Danny is such a fun character to read. He's a perfectly realistic mix of determination, smarts, bumbling Britishness (sort of like very young Colin Firth ;D) and social and emotional insecurity.  He's not well liked among his peers but he knows he's good at what he does and he takes a lot of pride in that.   Danny's home life is strained since his father went missing, and he also suspects that his mom is not happy about his lifestyle choice.  You definitely feel for him and when he meets the clock spirit of Enfield, you just root for him to have that happiness, no matter how forbidden falling in love with a clock spirit was.  I loved his best friend, Cassie--a quick-tongued, ingenious auto mechanic---and also several other of the side characters that Danny's story entangles with.

The magic and world-building in this was wonderful and so well thought out. The idea that these clock towers actually control time for each region was such an interesting idea, and although I felt the intermittent chapters telling the backstory of the Gods interrupted the flow of the story a bit, it still added much needed info on how and why the world was the way it was.  The plot is full of mystery and wonder and danger and one of the sweetest, swooniest romances I've read in a while. I was completely enchanted from start to finish. 



•ABOUT THE AUTHOR•

Tara Sim is the author of Timekeeper (Sky Pony Press, Fall 2016) and writer of all things magic. She can often be found in the wilds of the Bay Area, California.

When she’s not writing about mischievous boys in clock towers, Tara spends her time drinking tea, wrangling cats, and occasionally singing opera. Despite her bio-luminescent skin, she is half-Indian and eats way too many samosas.


WEBSITE   •   TWITTER   •   INSTAGRAM

Purchase the book:   Indiebound   •   BookDepository   •   Amazon


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So since I was fortunate enough to be sent a finished copy of this wonderful book that I was planning to buy anyhow, I'm going to order one to send to one lucky winner, anywhere in the world*! :D This books makes me happy and swoony---and that's the kind of thing that needs to be spread around! ♥
Enter below!
Open anywhere BookDepository ships*
Ends 1/28/17

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It lets us all gush about what soon-to-be released books we are jumping-up-and-down excited for.
by Laurie Forest

hitting shelves May 2nd, 2017
from Harlequin Teen
A Great Winged One will soon arise and cast his fearsome shadow upon the land. And just as Night slays Day, and Day slays Night, so also shall another Black Witch rise to meet him, her powers vast beyond imagining. 

So foretells the greatest prophecy of the Gardnerian mages. Carnissa Gardner, the last prophesied Black Witch, drove back the enemy forces and saved her people during the Realm War. Now a new evil is on the horizon, and her granddaughter, Elloren, is believed to be Carnissa’s heir—but while she is the absolute image of her famous grandmother, Elloren is utterly devoid of power in a society that prizes magical ability above nearly all else.

When she is granted the opportunity to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming an apothecary, Elloren is eager to join her brothers at the prestigious Verpax University and finally embrace a destiny of her own, free from the shadow of her grandmother’s legacy. But she soon realizes that the University, which admits all manner of peoples—including the fire-wielding, winged Icarals, the sworn enemies of her people—is an even more treacherous place for the granddaughter of the Black Witch.

My thoughts:  This sounds so amazing and fun. A girl living up to a legacy, trying to make her own path, and a magical university. Yep...I'm excited for this one!!  

What book are you eagerly anticipating this week?

Sunday, January 8, 2017

The Book Jumper by Mechthild Gläser {blog tour review}

Today the blog tour for The Book Jumper, Mechthild Gläser's new fantasy-fulfilling YA novel, stops right here at Stories & Sweeties! :D I'll be sharing my thoughts and then telling you which book I would love to jump into if I had the Lennox family's book-jumping powers! Read on>>>


The Book Jumper
by Mechthild Gläser 
♦publisher: Feiwel & Friends
♦release date: January 3rd, 2017
♦hardcover, 384 pages
♦intended audience: Young adult
♦stand-alone
♦source: from publisher for honest review
Amy Lennox doesn't know quite what to expect when she and her mother pick up and leave Germany for Scotland, heading to her mother's childhood home of Lennox House on the island of Stormsay.

Amy's grandmother, Lady Mairead, insists that Amy must read while she resides at Lennox House—but not in the usual way. It turns out that Amy is a book jumper, able to leap into a story and interact with the world inside. As thrilling as Amy's new power is, it also brings danger—someone is stealing from the books she visits, and that person may be after her life. Teaming up with fellow book jumper Will, Amy vows to get to the bottom of the thefts—at whatever the cost.

Review: If there was ever a book that fulfilled every avid reader's fantasy, it's The Book Jumper. The two families on the island of Stormsay have a very special legacy and an amazing gift. They are the guardians of the literary world---every story every written is theirs to watch over and protect. And to do this, they magically transport themselves right into the stories themselves.  What reader has not dreamt of this very thing?? I think it may be my favorite magical power that I've ever come across. :)

When Amy learns of her family's gift, she is excited to start jumping. She's a little cocky and reckless with it, especially after she learns she can do something no one else can, not even other Jumpers. I liked the closeness between her and her mother, but I really thought Amy's reaction to a few surprises her mother throws at her were a bit overly dramatic. I did like the gradual closeness that grows between her and Will, a young man from the "rival" family on the island. The mystery and danger grows as one character turns up murdered and key ideas start going missing from the stories, throwing them into chaos.  Amy, Will, and her new fictional friend Werther race to find out who is behind the thefts, with all kinds of suspicions flying. In the story, each work of fiction is part of a huge connected world and even though at times the how and why of the way the world worked is a little glazed over and fuzzy, with a little suspension of disbelief, it's a completely enjoyable romp through some of my favorite stories.

There were just a few problems I had. As often happens with translated books, I found the flow to be a little bit choppy at times. Its times like these that I wish I could magically read in any language so I could experience all stories in their original form. I definitely think that there's usually a little something that gets lost in translation.  Another little quirk I had is that it felt very young. Amy seemed very young at times and most of the story felt more geared toward a middle grade audience---so much so that the few swear words that popped up felt jarring and out of character.

Still, such a wild, fun, and creative story.  I also loved that for a book about fairy tales and classic stories, it wasn't quite a happily ever after but an interesting ending that left Amy with a pretty weighty decision to make in her future.


•ABOUT THE AUTHOR•


Mechthild Gläser was born in the summer of 1986 in Essen. Even today, she lives and works in the Ruhr area, where she devotes herself to her studies and now and then dances ballet badly - but only when no one is looking. She started writing early, and her laptop still stands on the pink desk under which her first stories arose. She finds inspiration everywhere, but best with a cup of peppermint tea.
(translated from Goodreads author info, originally in German)



Purchase the book:   Indiebound   •   BookDepository   •   Amazon


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So which book would I love to jump into??

If I ever was so lucky to find myself suddenly able to jump into my favorite books, the question would be: which book would I jump into FIRST ;D. It would be a dream come true, being able to fly with Peter Pan and Wendy, join Dumbledore's Army, drink a cup of tea with the Hatter and Alice, and learn to fence with the Three Musketeers.  But the first book I would jump into, just to get my feet wet in the literary world, would be Pride and Prejudice. To talk and dream with Lizzie and Jane, walk the halls of Netherfield, put on a pretty gown and my best manners and dance at a lively ball, and take long walks and carriage rides through the English countryside. Not to mention, get to witness both the first encounter of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, and flip to the end to see him finally confess his love. ♥♥♥

SO which book would YOU jump into??

Be sure to drop by the rest of the stops on the Book Jumper Tour!
January 4th: Mundie Moms 
January 6th: Reading Nook Reviews 
January 9th:  Quite the Novel Idea 

New Shelf Goodies & The Weekly Nutshell {179}

For New Shelf Goodies, I'll be showing you what lovely books I acquired this week, whether from publishers, or the library, or from whatever half-crazed book-buying binge I happened to go on. :D (Inspired by Tynga's Stacking the Shelves) The Weekly Nutshell will be just that...my week here at Stories & Sweeties, in a nutshell. (inspired by Ginger @ GReads and her recaps at the end of the TGIF posts)

Oh gosh, it's been a bit since I've done one of these posts! It was a fun and busy holiday season, I guess! xD So here's what I got the past few weeks.
What to Say Next by Julie Buxbaum
I adored Julie's first book so I'm really looking forward to this one!
Dreamfall by Amy Plum
Eeep!! I won this amazing copy! Thank you, Amy!!
Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith
Daughter and I love this author, so obviously we're excited!
Zenn Diagram by Wendy Brandt
These are both coming from a brand new YA imprint, and both sound really cute!
Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde
This sounds fun and fandom-y :D
Hearts and Other Body Parts by Ira Bloom
Another fun-sounding one with all the classic horror monsters!
The Great Pursuit by Wendy Higgins
I have both in this duology now so I'm hoping to do a series-binge soon
Frostblood by Elly Blake
This sounds excited and I've heard great things about it!
The Best Kind of Magic by Crystal Cestari
Magical families and let's face it, that cover is so gorgeous!
Mother-daughter witches and a town full of secrets---what's not to be excited about here?

Thanks to Kids Can Press, Amy Plum, and all my lovely trading partners! :D

The Weekly Nutshell
recent posts:
Review: The Alchemists of Loom by Elise Kova
Waiting on Wednesday: My top 12 most anticipated 2017 books!
What's New: January YA Release List & Giveaway!
Goodbye 2016! A Baker's Dozen of Favorites!

Well I'd like to say things are slowing down after the holidays, but things never quite slow down until February in my household. Partially because hubby and I both have birthdays in January :)  So the fun hasn't stopped yet!! I just finished The Book Jumper and I'll be reviewing that tomorrow on the blog for the blog tour! Right now I'm headlong into Wayfarer and it is shaping up to be just as amazing as its predecessor! Yay! :D I was also super excited to see Target had another special edition of it that included an additionally short story so I can wait to get mine in the mail!  Next up for me will be a Truthwitch and Windwitch marathon so I'm really looking forward to that!!

Hope everyone has an amazing week! Happy reading! 


Thursday, January 5, 2017

The Alchemists of Loom by Elise Kova {Review}


The Alchemists of Loom
by Elise Kova
♦publisher: Keymaster Press
release day: January 10th, 2017
♦hardcover, 380 pages
♦intended audience: Young adult
♦series: Loom Saga, book 1
♦source: from publisher for honest review
(an edited version of this review posted at SanFranciscoBookReview.com)
Her vengeance. His vision.

Ari lost everything she once loved when the Five Guilds’ resistance fell to the Dragon King. Now, she uses her unparalleled gift for clockwork machinery in tandem with notoriously unscrupulous morals to contribute to a thriving underground organ market. There isn’t a place on Loom that is secure from the engineer turned thief, and her magical talents are sold to the highest bidder as long as the job defies their Dragon oppressors.

Cvareh would do anything to see his sister usurp the Dragon King and sit on the throne. His family’s house has endured the shame of being the lowest rung in the Dragons’ society for far too long. The Alchemist Guild, down on Loom, may just hold the key to putting his kin in power, if Cvareh can get to them before the Dragon King’s assassins.

When Ari stumbles upon a wounded Cvareh, she sees an opportunity to slaughter an enemy and make a profit off his corpse. But the Dragon sees an opportunity to navigate Loom with the best person to get him where he wants to go.

He offers her the one thing Ari can’t refuse: A wish of her greatest desire, if she brings him to the Alchemists of Loom.

Review: For awhile now, I've heard about this outstanding self-published author, Elise Kova and her fantasy series, Air Awakens.  It's gained such a cult fandom and left me curious about her work, not to mention being drawn to the gorgeous illustrated covers. I never got around to picking it up. With this new series, however, with it's promise of dragons, alchemists, steampunk creations, and adventure, there was no way I could resist. I tell you now---I was not disappointed and am now even more raring to get started on her previous series.

The world of Loom is so meticulously built. With dragons in the sky (though these are nothing like the dragons you've seen before), chimera and humans on the ground, and an arsenal of magically-fueled steampunk weaponry, this world manage to be dark, gritty, and sparkling, all at once. Kova has an incredibly creative writing style that lets the details of Loom blossom slowly around the story's main players, unfolding gracefully alongside the many plot lines and through the alternating voices of Ari, Florence, Cvareh, and Leona. There is no shortage of action, political intrigue, heartbreak, and swoonworthy romance that drives this story along.

The characters take turns capturing the reader, each with so many complexities and passions. There were some that I loved and then some that I definitely loved to hate.  I loved Florence almost more than any of the others The way she looks up to Ari in an almost reverent way because she was the one to save her and teach her, but especially how we get to see her gain confidence and grow in to her own strengths. Ari was a complete bad-ass, but we slowly get to see where her fierceness stems from and a few softer and unsure sides of her as well. The relationship that grows between Ari and Cvareh is slow-burning and fragile, a trust that strengthens and then snaps nearly every other page, but definitely left me anticipating it's outcome in future books.

Fantasy fans will not want to miss this one, and, best of all, we won't be tortured with a long wait for book two. The Dragons of Nova hits shelves in April 2017!! I know even this short wait will feel too long for me!


•ABOUT THE AUTHOR•

Elise Kova has always had a profound love of fantastical worlds. Somehow, she managed to focus on the real world long enough to graduate with a Master's in Business Administration before crawling back under her favorite writing blanket to conceptualize her next magic system. She currently lives in St. Petersburg, Florida, and when she is not writing can be found playing video games, watching anime, or talking with readers on social media.

WEBSITE   •   TWITTER   •   INSTAGRAM

Purchase the book:   Indiebound   •   BookDepository   •   Amazon