Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Waiting on...

"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 Yvonee Ventresca

hitting shelves October 4th, 2016
from Sky Pony Press
Her father died before she was born, but Ella Benton knows they have a supernatural connection. Since her mother discourages these beliefs, Ella keeps her cemetery visits secret. But she may not be the only one with secrets. Ella’s mother might be lying about how Dad died sixteen years ago. Newfound evidence points to his death in a psychiatric hospital, not as a result of a tragic car accident as her mother always claimed. After a lifetime of just the two of them, Mom suddenly feels like a stranger.

When a handprint much like the one Ella left on her father’s tombstone mysteriously appears on the bathroom mirror, at first she wonders if Dad is warning her of danger as he did once before. If it’s not a warning, could her new too-good-to-be-true boyfriend be responsible for the strange occurrences? Or maybe it’s the grieving building superintendent whose dead daughter strongly resembles Ella? As the unexplained events become more frequent and more sinister, Ella becomes terrified about who—or what—might harm her.

Soon the evidence points to someone else entirely: Ella herself. What if, like her father, she’s suffering from a breakdown? In this second novel from award-winning author Yvonne Ventresca, Ella desperately needs to find answers, no matter how disturbing the truth might be.

My thoughts:  Ahh, this sounds so incredibly creepy and perfect for a little pre-Halloween spookiness!  Love the father/daughter tie, a little paranormal ghostliness going on, and the promise of sinister family secrets!

What are you waiting on this week?

Sunday, February 7, 2016

New Shelf Goodies & The Weekly Nutshell {155}

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)

Traded for:
The Siren by Kiera Cass
For being such a well-known author I feel like I haven't heard much feedback for this one! I'm very excited to read it, though!

For Review:
Time Stoppers by Carrie Jones
 I haven't read this author since her very first book, Need, but this MG is looking fantastic!
Exile for Dreamers by Kathleen Baldwin
Eeee, so excited for this. While I enjoyed the first book in this series, I loved the character that this companion focuses on. Yay for more Tess!
Some of the Parts by Hannah Barnaby
Curious about this one, it's an interesting premise but one that's been done before, so I'm not sure! I'll probably wait to see a few more trusted reviews before taking on this one. 
The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner
OK. So I don't read much contemp, but with the reader reactions I've been seeing to this book, I don't think it's one I want to miss. 

Many thanks to Bloomsbury Kids, Tor Teen, and Random House for these! And to the lovely Jane for trading with me! :D

The Weekly Nutshell:
{Monday} What's New February YA Releases & Giveaway
{Tuesday} Waiting on...Lotus & Thorn by Sara Wilson Etienne
{Thursday} Guest post featuring Annabeth Neverending + Cupcakes!

 It's going to be in the 70s here this week. Sunny and 70s!! I'm torn, I love Winter and wish it would stay just a bit longer, but I'm looking forward to Spring, too I guess. Speaking of Winter...audiobook, still slowly working my way through and just absolutely loving it. I've found myself sitting in my car and extra few minutes after I get where I'm going just to finish whatever amazing scene I'm caught up in (apologies to my boss for being late to work LOL).  I read Heir and the Spare last week, which was just fun and a bit fluffy, but really good---my full review will be up this week.  Now I'm reading Passenger, 100 or so pages in and loving it so far. Which is good, because I know I've seen a few people warn of a slow beginning and I was worried! 

Hope you are all getting some great reading done this week! :D

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Guest post with Leyla Kader Dahm - Annabeth Neverending & Salted Caramel Ankh Cupcakes!

Today I have special treat! A guest post featuring author Leyla Kader Dahm!  To celebrate her new book, Annabeth Neverending, she's stopped by for a little guest baking session :)


Annabeth Neverending
by Leyla Kader Dahm
♦release date: December 15th, 2016
♦paperback, 307 pages
♦intended audience: Young adult
At first, teenager Annabeth Prescott thinks she’s found quite a deal when she talks down the price of an ankh pendant she discovers at a flea market. She soon wonders if the bauble is more than she's bargained for when she faints and glimpses images from a past life in ancient Egypt. 

The discovery coincides with another new find: Gabriel, a handsome young man who takes an interest in her. When she meets his twin brother C. J. at a Halloween party, she realizes they look exactly like two boys who figure prominently into her memories.

Does C. J. share the heroic qualities held by his past incarnation Sethe, her bodyguard when she was Princess Ana? Does Gabriel possess the same evil powers he wielded as Kha, the black sorcerer who sought her affection?

Love meets the supernatural in this gripping young adult paranormal romance. Readers with an interest in reincarnation, as well as ancient Egypt, will be drawn to its mystical mixture of history and hesitation as Annabeth sways between the two brothers. 

Will her reincarnated soulmate win out? Or will Kha finally find the way to her heart?

Wisconsin native Leyla Kader Dahm popped popcorn and dreamt of a career in show business while working in a movie theater during high school. The small-town Midwestern girl opted for the practical route and studied communications at Carroll College and Cornell University. But her life changed course dramatically when a temp agency placed her in a production and development gig at Miramax/Dimension Films.

Dahm went on to work as a script consultant for numerous production companies. She appeared in the acclaimed spoken word show Sit ‘N Spin and had her comedy feature spec, Due North, optioned by Michael Levy Enterprises. She sold her pitch, Survival Instinct, to Nickelodeon Original Movies. 

Dahm lives with her husband and children in Los Angeles, where she focuses on writing quality material for families and young adults.


Annabeth Neverending is a fun paranormal romance featuring past lives, magic, and tons of great Egyptian mythology.  To perfectly tie in with her book, Leyla has created these fun cupcakes. They sound delicious (salted caramel is a fave flavor of mine!) and she even instructs on how to make the cute little Ankh cupcake-toppers!  


1 3/4 c boiling water
6 oz semisweet chocolate chips
1 c unsweetened cocoa powder
2 c sifted cake flour
2 ts baking soda
1/4 ts salt
10 oz unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 c firmly packed dark brown sugar
4 lg eggs
2 ts vanilla


1. Preheat oven to 350F. Put cupcake liners in tins.
2. In a medium bowl, pour the boiling water over the chocolate chips. Set aside for 5 minutes. Add the cocoa and stir until the mixture is smooth. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
4. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar and add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. 
5. Add the flour mixture and half the chocolate mixture. Beat on low speed to combine, and then on high for 1 1/2 minutes. Add the remaining chocolate mixture and beat on low speed to combine.
6. Pour the batter into the prepared tins and bake for 30-40 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Set the cupcake pans on a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes. 



1 c firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 c butter
1/3 c whole milk
4 c powdered sugar, sifted
1 ts vanilla extract
1/2 ts sea salt

1. Bring first brown sugar and butter to a rolling boil in a 3 1/2-qt. saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly.
2. Stir in milk, and return to a boil; remove from heat. Pour into bowl of a heavy-duty electric stand mixer. 
3. Gradually beat in powdered sugar and vanilla at medium speed, using whisk attachment; beat 7 to 10 minutes or until thickened. 
4. Frost cupcakes.


To make the ankh decorations, either use an ankh shaped candy mold like I did, or you can pipe ankh shapes with melted chocolate chips onto wax paper.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Waiting on...

"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.
Lotus and Thorn
by Sara Wilson Etienne

hitting shelves June 6th, 2016
from G.P. Putnam's BYR
Ravaged by a plague known as Red Death, the planet Gabriel, a former colony of Earth, is a barren wasteland. Since being abandoned by Earth 500 years ago, resources are scarce and life is cheap. To stay alive, the survivors, the Citizens, scavenge the remains of a now dead city, trading for food with the resource-rich Curadores, the only other survivors on Gabriel. Every old computer, every piece of wire, every scrap of metal counts. To steal is the ultimate sin. So when tough-as-nails seventeen-year-old Leica is caught doing just that, she’s exiled and left to the mercy of Gabriel’s unforgiving desert for the rest of her life.

While in exile, Leica discovers a mysterious shuttle, which may not only lead her home, but even more impossible—reestablish contact with Earth. Then Red Death rears its head again, killing her entire work crew, leaving Leica all alone until a handsome Curador offers her refuge in the Dome—the only place on Gabriel untouched by Red Death, where a decadent and sultry life awaits. But there’s a catch: Leica can only enter the Dome as his concubine—his Kisaeng. When a rogue group of Citizens see their chance for revolution in Leica’s good fortune, she finds herself unraveling a deadly mystery with chilling answers to the true origin of Red Death and the reason Earth really abandoned them so long ago.

A richly imagined fantasy in the vein of Tamora Pierce, Lotus and Thorn, is a magnificent, epic adventure.

My thoughts:  A little bit fantasy, a little bit dystopia---but a whole lot of amazing! :D I love the sound of this one, and I really enjoyed this author's first book, Harbinger (here's my review), so I'm excited to check this one out!

Monday, February 1, 2016

What's New: February YA New Releases & Giveaway!

Happy February, everyone! The month of love---Love of books counts, right? Yea it does! My big bookish dilemma this month will be whether to cling to my patience and wait for the US edition of Melissa Salisbury's Sleeping Prince in May OR to throw patience out the window and spring for the UK copy, which is out in just 3 days! :D  Oh and guys--I'm officially into my 6th year of blogging. SIX! I'm currently pondering up a way to mark the occasion, but we'll see. I'm terrible at that--if any of you remember, I just finally celebrated my 5th blogaversary this past November with the other Fantastic Fives! That was definitely a bit delayed. :/

So if you're new to Stories & Sweeties, here's a little run-down of this feature: at the start of each month, I do a little thing called the "What's New List & Giveaway" where you'll find a full list of the new releases in YA for the month, and entry to the international giveaway. At the end of each month, one lucky winner will get to choose any new release as their prize!

First things first! The winner of December's giveaway is D! Congrats!

January 2016 Releases:
Just like previous months, I've put a little lve by those books that I am really anticipating!

Greta and the Lost Army by Chloe Jacobs
The Sapphire Cutlass by Sharon Gosling
The Secret of Letting Go by Katherine Fleet

Assassin's Heart by Sarah Ahiers
Banished by Kimberley Griffiths Little
Burning Midnight by Will McIntosh
Darkness Fair by Rachel A. Marks
Escape to Eden by Rachel McClellan
Games Wizards Play by Diane Duane
Movers by Meaghan McIsaac
Pull by Kevin Waltman 
Raging Sea by Michael Buckley
Revenge and the Wild by Michelle Modesto 
Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys 
Starflight by Melissa Landers 
Stars Above by Marissa Meyer 
Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin
The Truth by Jeffry W. Johnston
Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell 

Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman 
Bleeding Earth by Kailin Ward
Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard 
The Hunt by Chuck Wendig
The Land of Look Behind by Aaron Blaylock
Little White Lies by Brianna Baker
Peas and Carrots by Tanita S. Davis
Reign of Shadows by Sophie Jordan
The Sword of Feimhin by Frank P. Ryan
These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker & Kelly Zekas 
Where Futures End by Parker Peevyhouse 

Ascending the Boneyard by C.G. Watson
Bluescreen by Dan Wells
Calamity by Brandon Sanderson
The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig 
Marked by Laura Williams McCaffrey
Pull by Anne Riley 
Rebel, Bully, Geek, Pariah by Erin Jade Lange
Riders by Veronica Rossi 
The Rule of Mirrors by Caragh M O'Brien
The Shadow Queen by C. J. Redwine 
Some of the Parts by Hannah Barnaby
Take the Fall by Emily Hainsworth 
Under the Dusty Moon by Suzanne Sutherland
The Word for Yes by Claire Needell

Behold the Bones by Natalie C. Parker 
Betrayed by Lynn Carthage
The Bitter Side of Sweet by Tara Sullivan
Cinnamon Girl by Juan Felipe Herrera
Dreamfever by Kit Alloway
Dove Exiled by Karen Bao
Firstlife by Gena Showalter 
The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury 
Kill the Boy Band by Goldy Modavsky
Kingdom of Ashes by Rhiannon Thomas 
The Last Place on Earth by Carol Snow 
Leaving Earth by Dom Testa
Longbow Girl by Linda Davies
The Secret Language of Girls by Luanne Rice
The Smell of Other People's Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock
Thanks for the Trouble by Tommy Wallach
Temper by Beck Nicholas
Well of Witches by J.A. White 
Titans by Victoria Scott
Unbecoming by Jenny Downham

Nora & Kettle by Lauren Nicolle Taylor 

(All links go to Goodreads)
Please feel free to email me if you notice any YA titles missing! :)

Giveaway Details: 
One winner will win a YA February release of their choice! *see note below
• Contest ends 
February 29th, 2016 at 11:59 PM
• Must be 13 or older.
• Open internationally. *International winners will be required to choose a book that is available through BookDepository.com or Fishpond.com up to $20 value.
•Extra entries can be earned by commenting on January or 
February reviews, and can be done once per review. Come back throughout February whenever you comment on my reviews and get your extra points!     a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, January 30, 2016

New Shelf Goodies & The Weekly Nutshell {154}

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)

Things of beauty:

From Trades:
This looks super cute and quirky. :)
A Salem Witch related story- told by a descendant of Cotton Mather? :D  I can't wait to read this. 

For review:
Eeee! I  adore this series, but I'll be sad to see it end.
Fairy story by one of my fave authors! This is a duplicate for me, though. 
Aaah, seriously one of my most anticipated books of this year! Also a duplicate. 
Looks creepy!
This looks fun, but eeek, tsunamis. If there's one thing I'm irrationally terrified of...
I've heard good things about this writer, but not sure this will be for me. 
This looks interesting! Sometimes I like alien stories, sometimes not, so I'm eager to try this one!
Again, not sure this will be my thing, but it looks like a heartfelt story.

Huge thanks to Harper Collins, Mary Weber, and my lovely trading partners! :D

The Weekly Nutshell:
{Wednesday} Waiting on Wednesday: Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter
{Thursday} Blog Tour Review: Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell

So has anyone else been wigged out by a sudden loss of blog followers? When I first saw that I'd lost nearly 40 in one night, I thought--Oh crap, who did I piss off? LOL  Then I did some digging and found that Google is behind it. I've lost nearly 300 at this point, and while I know followers are not something to obsess over, it was disheartening none the less.  Good ol' Google decided that they were going to delete anyone who used an alternate sign in to follow through GFC--whether by Twitter or Facebook or however---if it wasn't done with a google account, it was outta there.  In their statement, they say this will benefit everyone in the end, but honestly I don't see how that benefits anyone, not even them. This is not going to gain them more members--everyone who was kicked off my GFC is not going to run over and get themselves a google account just so they can follow a few blogs. So I'm not sure where the benefit of this action lies for anyone. :(   Anyhow, the point of my rant: if you happened to follow GFC with an account other than a google account in the past, I would love it if you'd like to keep following, but you'll have to follow me on Bloglovin or Twitter or some other way. I do so appreciate everyone who stops by my little corner of the internet! 

On the reading front, I'm reading an Egyptian mythology story right now called Annabeth Neverending.  It's pretty good, and I'm enjoying the Egyptian lore. I'll also be having the author on this week to share a cupcake recipe, so keep an eye out for that! I also started Heir and the Spare, which is just adorable and I'm enjoying so much! :) On the horizon is Passenger and I am, of course, excited to jump into that one. 

Happy reading, everyone! :D

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell {blog tour review & giveaway}

I'm super excited to be today's stop in the Rockstar Blog Tour for
Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell!

You can check out my review below and then don't forget to enter the incredible giveaway that Lisa has set up for you guys! So without further ado---

Off we go!! To Neverland!

by Lisa Maxwell
♦publisher: Simon Pulse
♦release date: February 2nd, 2016
♦hardcover, 352 pages
♦intended audience: Young adult
♦source: from publisher for honest review/blog tour

For as long as she can remember, Gwendolyn Allister has never had a place to call home—all because her mother believes that monsters are hunting them. Now these delusions have brought them to London, far from the life Gwen had finally started to build for herself. The only saving grace is her best friend, Olivia, who’s coming with them for the summer.

But when Gwen and Olivia are kidnapped by shadowy creatures and taken to a world of flesh-eating sea hags and dangerous Fey, Gwen realizes her mom might have been sane all along.

The world Gwen finds herself in is called Neverland, yet it’s nothing like the stories. Here, good and evil lose their meaning and memories slip like water through her fingers. As Gwen struggles to remember where she came from and find a way home, she must choose between trusting the charming fairy-tale hero who says all the right things and the roguish young pirate who promises to keep her safe.

With time running out and her enemies closing in, Gwen is forced to face the truths she’s been hiding from all along. But will she be able to save Neverland without losing herself?

My review:
This is NOT a retelling of Peter Pan. :) It's dark, more sinister, completely twisted and creepy,..and so, so good. It's a whole new Neverland tale, more nightmare than adventure, where the inhabitants will play at their parts to mask the oncoming war.  

Before Gwen and Olivia are taken, they are the closest of friends, dependent on eachother for support is each of their unsatisfying homes. Gwen's mother seems to be grasping at her sanity, constantly moving them from place to place to escape the "monsters".  But Gwen will find out she's got more secrets that she could ever imagine.  When we meet her she's unhappy, she's confused and feeling trapped by her mother's mental state, but while she's away she definitely finds another side of herself. 

I loved how the author wove in the little bits of Neverland we all know so well, giving them a nightmarish twist until they were something that felt eerily nostalgic, but took a second to realize why they felt that way.  She reimagined not only the characters, but even the concepts of the original, like all the jealousy, the idea of never growing old, and forgetting where you come from---it was all there but in a completely terrifying way!

The story flowed along at a fast pace while still having a certain dream-like quality.  So romantic at times, and so danger-filled at others! I definitely think the infamous pirate will finally make his way into a few hearts with this one. I truly enjoyed my trip to Neverland, even if it leaves me with a few night terrors and my idea of Peter Pan will be forever changed! I loved it!

Lisa Maxwell is the author of Sweet Unrest, Gathering Deep (Flux, Fall 2015) and Unhooked (Simon Pulse, Spring 2016). When she's not writing books, she's an English professor at a local college. She lives near DC with her very patient husband and two not-so patient boys.

*        *        *        *        *

Lisa is generously giving away a signed finished copy of Unhooked, a gorgeous map of Neverland, and a Hook Funko Pop character to one lucky winner!  5 more winners will also be selected for an awesome swag pack! 
US only
a Rafflecopter giveaway