Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters {Review & Giveaway}

The Cure for Dreaming
by Cat Winters
♦publisher: Amulet Books
♦release date: October 14th, 2014
♦hardcover, 368 pages
♦intended audience: Young adult
♦source: ALA

Olivia Mead is a headstrong, independent girl—a suffragist—in an age that prefers its girls to be docile. It’s 1900 in Oregon, and Olivia’s father, concerned that she’s headed for trouble, convinces a stage mesmerist to try to hypnotize the rebellion out of her. But the hypnotist, an intriguing young man named Henri Reverie, gives her a terrible gift instead: she’s able to see people’s true natures, manifesting as visions of darkness and goodness, while also unable to speak her true thoughts out loud. These supernatural challenges only make Olivia more determined to speak her mind, and so she’s drawn into a dangerous relationship with the hypnotist and his mysterious motives, all while secretly fighting for the rights of women. Winters breathes new life into history once again with an atmospheric, vividly real story, including archival photos and art from the period throughout.

Review: For the second time, Cat Winters has astounded me with her breathtaking, spine-chilling writing, her ability to create a cast full of engaging characters, and her absolute death grip of a grasp on how to make a reader feel like they’ve been plopped right down into important moments in history.  In The Cure for Dreaming, she completely immerses us into the chaos and frustrations of the woman’s suffrage movement through the eyes of a young woman named Olivia.  The story opens on Halloween night, Olivia’s birthday, and she and her friends are attending a show where gifted hypnotist Henrie Reverie is about to give her an amazing mystical experience and make her the talk of the town.   At home, Olivia is in constant battle with her backward-thinking father, a horrible man who thinks woman are only good for serving their husbands and takes a little too much pleasure in the pain he inflicts as a dentist. 

What most impresses me is how terrifying this story is. In an effort to get his “wild daughter” under control, Olivia’s father hires Henrie to hypnotize her into “seeing the world the way it truly is” and the shock of what that means sinks in when she first opens her eyes and sees her father as a gaunt, red-eyed, long-fanged beast.  She sees the cruelty in people as a monstrous manifestation. She envisions downtrodden women as so drained of life you can see right through them.  It gives the story an incredibly chilling paranormal feel without anything but a psychological manipulation actually happening! Brilliantly done!
While her new way of seeing things scares her beyond words, Olivia also becomes an even stronger woman because of it.  I loved the part she played in the suffrage movement, I loved the twisting and unpredictable, not-so-much love story, but attraction and fascination that Henrie and Olivia had toward each other.  And I love that at the end, she is standing strong, following no one’s influence but her own.

So much to recommend about this addictive, mesmerizing, psychological horror story. Read it. For those of you that loved In the Shadow of Blackbirds, I dare say this was even more captivating. 

Find Cat Winters online:  Website  •  Twitter  •  Facebook
Purchase the book:  •  BookDepository  •  Indiebound

Halloween Giveaway!!
This book makes such a perfect Halloween read, I want to get it into the hands of one lucky reader by Halloween night!
Contest ends 10/27/14---Just a quick one! 
US addresses only please.
*OK, not sure why my rafflecopter was being nutty before, but it appears to be working now! Sorry about that!*
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

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.  Though someday I need to change the title that I post this under---I almost never post it on Wednesday! :D

Siren's Fury
by Mary Weber

hitting shelves June 2nd, 2015 
from Thomas Nelson 

description: "I thrust my hand toward the sky as my voice begs the Elemental inside me to waken and rise. But it's no use. The curse I've spent my entire life abhorring—the thing I trained so hard to control—no longer exists."

Nym has saved Faelen only to discover that Draewulf stole everything she valued. Now he’s destroyed her Elemental storm-summoning ability as well.

When Nym sneaks off with a host of delegates to Bron, Lord Myles offers her the chance for a new kind of power and the whispered hope that it may do more than simply defeat the monster she loathes. But the secrets the Bron people have kept concealed, along with the horrors Draewulf has developed, may require more than simply harnessing a darker ability.

They may require who she is.

Set against the stark metallic backdrop of the Bron kingdom, Nym is faced with the chance to change the future.

Or was that Draewulf’s plan for her all along?

My thoughts: SO, I haven't yet had a chance to read book 1 in this series, but I have it on good authority (I'm looking at you, Rachel!) that it was an awesome beginning. But I just had to feature this one now---I mean...LOOK at that cover!  How many times can you say that a sequel cover is even more gorgeous that the first book?  First one was pretty, this one is stunning!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

New Shelf Goodies & The Weekly Nutshell {107}

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 week here at Stories & Sweeties, in a nutshell. (inspired by Ginger @ GReads and her recaps at the end of the TGIF posts)

New stuff this week:
 For review: 
Looks so interesting! A girl gets mistaken for her dead twin sister!
So excited to get this one! Very excited to see Holly Black return to writing Fairies! :)

I've loved this series so far, so when this came across my desk today, I had to bring it home!
Many thanks to Macmillan and Little Brown for the review copies!

The weekly nutshell:
{Tuesday} Waiting on Wednesday: Rook 

{Thursday} Review: Chasing Power

 I feel like such a Halloween failure! I'm usually the first on the blog to have my house decorated, but we've all been so busy lately that we just got them up yesterday! Still I love them, I have my circle of ghosts and my "fresh" graves all ready to greet trick or treaters. :)  The leaves are falling fast and the weather is finally starting to drop into the 70s. Hurrah! Next week I'm headed to another trade show, so this week will be all about sorting books out for giveaways and starting to put them aside for local donations and Toys for Tots.  Always kind of fun to go through everything and get some space cleared. :) 
Tomorrow I'm taking my first stab at making french macarons.  We visited Thomas Keller's Bouchon bakery last week and I've become obsessed with them.  I know they won't be nearly as good---their recipe is sheer culinary genius---but I'll take a crack at it and hope for the best! I've heard it's pretty tricky to get them right!
 Finished Cure for Dreaming this week.  Cat Winters blew me away with this one. Gave me a bit of book hangover, but I'm starting and enjoying They All Fall Down so far!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Chasing Power by Sarah Beth Durst {review}

Chasing Power
by Sarah Beth Durst
♦publisher: Bloomsbury USA
♦release date: October 14th, 2014
♦hardcover, 376 pages
♦intended audience: Young adult
♦source: from publisher for honest review
Sixteen-year-old Kayla was born with the ability to move things with her mind-things like credit cards and buttons on cash registers-and she has become a master shoplifter. She steals to build up enough money for her and her mom to be able to flee if her dad finds them again . . . which would mean grave danger for them both.

When she's caught stealing by a boy named Daniel-a boy with the ability to teleport-he needs her help and is willing to blackmail her to get it. Together, they embark on a quest to find and steal an ancient incantation, written on three indestructible stones and hidden millennia ago, all to rescue Daniel's kidnapped mother. But Kayla has no idea that this rescue mission will lead back to her own family-and to betrayals that she may not be able to forgive . . . or survive.

Review: Chasing Power was a great adventurous story, possibly my favorite from Sarah Beth Durst yet! Kayla whole life has become about hiding; she hides her powers of telekinesis from the world, she hides the fact that she secretly uses those powers from her mother, and most importantly she hides from her estranged father who murdered her sister.  In true angsty fashion, she takes out her frustration about living like this by using her powers to pull off small-time jewelry heists and ATM robberies. At first the details of how she pulled things off without anyone seeing was a little far-fetched, specifically when items are moving about in very public places with no one noticing but I let my disbelief suspend a bit in the name of a fantastic story. 

One day she is approached by Daniel, a guy with plenty of power of his own, but he needs her specific skill to help track down his kidnapped mother---so much that’s he’s willing to blackmail Kayla into helping him. She, of course, does not take kindly to being manipulated, so starts their very rocky relationship.  I liked Daniel’s character a lot, a scared guy trying to act tough but slowly you see his vulnerability come through. And as far as supernatural powers go, being able to teleport to any place he’s been or seen would be amazing! Their quest takes them to New Orleans to confer with a VooDoo queen and then on to so many far-off exotic places,  a thrill for Kayla who thought she would never leave their tiny home in Santa Barbara. 

The story races along, one plot-propelling scene from the next, while still allowing time to let us see into the hearts of these characters as their feelings toward each other shift and change and how their emotional struggles with their prospective families reveal themselves.  She also has a great best friend, Serena, incredibly smart, huge fun personality, super resourceful, many facets of her own that rounded out the story and Kayla’s character. Kayla’s mother is a big part of the story as well, a woman who has grown accustomed to running and living in fear, raising her daughter to do the same because it’s the only way she can conceive to keep her safe. 

The danger builds and many secrets and hidden pasts are revealed as they chase clues around the world, trying to stay one step ahead of their pursuers. Lots of twists and head-spinning surprises kept me turning page after page until the very end. 

Visit Sarah Beth Durst: Website  •  Twitter  •  Facebook
Purchase Conjured:  •  BookDepository  •  Indiebound 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

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.  Though someday I need to change the title that I post this under---I almost never post it on Wednesday! :D

by Sharon Cameron

hitting shelves April 28th, 2015
from Scholastic 

Rook is a retelling of The Scarlet Pimpernel set in the future; it follows “a Sunken City gone mad, an unwanted betrothal, and 13 innocents who will die unless a young woman with a legend can save them.”

My thoughts:  So, obviously no official synopsis on this one yet and just a tiny hint of the story, BUT I don't need to know more than the author to absolutely crave this one. I am such a huge fan of Sharon Cameron's steampunk series, A Dark Unwinding, that I will definitely be picking up any of her future work! And this cover?? Fantastic.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

New Shelf Goodies & The Weekly Nutshell {106}

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 week here at Stories & Sweeties, in a nutshell. (inspired by Ginger @ GReads and her recaps at the end of the TGIF posts)

My poor mailman and UPS guy were busy this week! I got a few others, but left out any duplicates to save time, as I'm posting this pretty late...or rather early AM.  ZZzzz... :)

These four pretty much elicited one long happy dance from me. :D
 These all look really interesting, but I think I'm most excited for Knightly & Son! I'll have to track down the first book, but it just looks like a fun MG series!
Many thanks to HMH, Macmillan, Algonquin, Random House, Bloomsbury, and Harper for all these wonderful goodies!

The weekly nutshell:
{Tuesday} Waiting on Wednesday: The Creeping
{Wednesday} Review: Trial by Fire

{Thursday} Old Books, New Looks 
{Friday} Review: Illusions of Fate 

This week I read The Opal Crown and started The Cure for Dreaming.  Just like the first book, Princess  in the Opal Mask, book two is fantastic.  Seriously, if you haven't tried this series yet, YOU MUST. It's so freaking good.  Cure for Dreaming is starting off so good and I'm trying to pace myself so I don't zip through it without savoring! :D
Someone tell me why I live in a place where its 90 degrees still. Where is my Fall, people?? Sigh. 
Have a lovely week, all! :)

Friday, October 10, 2014

Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White {review}

Illusion of Fate
by Kiersten White
♦publisher: HarperTeen
♦release date: September 9, 2014
♦hardcover, 288 pages
♦intended audience: Young adult
♦source: from publisher for honest review
“I did my best to keep you from crossing paths with this world. And I shall do my best to protect you now that you have.”

Jessamin has been an outcast since she moved from her island home of Melei to the dreary country of Albion. Everything changes when she meets Finn, a gorgeous, enigmatic young lord who introduces her to the secret world of Albion’s nobility, a world that has everything Jessamin doesn’t—power, money, status…and magic. But Finn has secrets of his own, dangerous secrets that the vicious Lord Downpike will do anything to possess. Unless Jessamin, armed only with her wits and her determination, can stop him.

Review: From page one of Illusions of Fate, I realized I’d forgotten how much I enjoy Kiersten White’s fun-spirited writing style from my experiences reading her Paranormalcy series.  The wit and humor immediately pulls me in and gives the heroine a voice that is entertaining and likeable.  We first meet Jessamin through a letter she is composing to her mother, and from this clever beginning, we get a first taste of her snarky humor, learn that she is from the island of Melei, and attending school on the main land of Albion, and that her estranged father is one of her professors.  

Further in, we learn exactly what she thinks of her school, her father and this new dreary sunless land.  She'd a very head-strong, determined girl, if her tactics for gaining entrance into the school is any indication.  Then she meets the strangely mesmerizing and mysterious Finn, and suddenly finds herself a pawn in the middle of a two-man war over magical power and political control.   

I liked the many facets of Jessamin’s character, her strong will and stubbornness garnering both respect and frustration from me. I’m all for a won’t-back-down attitude, and loved her determination not to let a strange man take care of things for her.  But it did get to the point where I was getting frustrated with her character when she put herself and everyone in danger in the name of doing things how she wanted to do them. Sometimes it came off as strong, sometimes it just seemed plain pig-headed. But it made for a great fleshed-out and complicated character. 

For the most part it was a fun story to read, but once the villain made himself known, I couldn’t help but feel the plot fell into a bit of a repetitive loop.  They’d venture out, Jessamin or one of her friends would be put in danger, they’d make a quick fix of it, and then go into hiding for a bit---and then start that cycle all over again.  Still, the lively characters, the fated romance, the mystique and magic, and a pretty shocking twist at the end all added up to a story that kept me glued to the pages until the end.  I truly waffled between a 3.5 or 4 rating for this one, but I think White's fun writing flare tips it toward the latter.  

Find Kiersten White online:  Website  •  Twitter  •  Facebook

Purchase Illusions of Fate:  Indiebound  •  BookDepository  •