Thursday, October 8, 2015

Drift and Dagger by Kendall Kulper {review}

Drift and Dagger
by Kendall Kulper
♦publisher: Little, Brown BYR
♦release date: September 8th, 2015
♦hardcover, 368 pages
♦intended audience: Young adult
♦stand-alone (companion prequel to Salt & Storm)
♦source: from publisher for honest review
I’ve always been a monster. And monsters destroy things. Things like magic and friendships and futures.

Mal used to have a home, a best friend, and a secret. But he lost all three on the day Essie Roe exposed him as a blank. Blanks cannot be cursed or saved or killed by magic. And everyone is afraid of them—even Mal himself.

Now Mal travels the world in search of dangerous and illegal magical relics, never stopping in any one place too long. When his partner in crime, Boone, hears of a legendary dagger that can steal magic, Mal knows he finally may have found a way to even the score with Essie. Crossing oceans and continents, Mal and Boone travel from Boston to Paris to Constantinople in search of the dagger. Finding it would mean riches, fame, and revenge—but only if Mal can control the monster inside him.

Kendall Kulper weaves a vivid story of betrayal and determination—and the road to forgiveness—in this new adventure set in the world of Salt & Storm.

Review: I admit I haven’t read this author’s first book, Salt & Storm. But after hearing that it is even better than Drift & Dagger, I know I need to move it up on my reading list…because I really enjoyed this one quite a lot! This is the prequel to the events of Salt & Storm so I’m eager to see where Essie’s story leads. Kendal Kulper’s writing is stunning and the world she has built to backdrop Mal’s story is a lush version of the 1850’s infused with magic, superstition, hunters, mysterious artifacts, and secret societies.  His adventure spans the globe, starting in a small-minded and curse-fearing town called Prince Island and on to London, New York, Constantinople, and even the jungles of Burma.

Mal is a constantly surprising character. At times he’s clever and resourceful, but at the idea of being left on his own, he fears the threat of loneliness.  He can be a bit broody at times, especially when thinking about the life he’s been dealt as a blank and what he fears he’ll become according to legend.  And then there is a side of him that is angry and wants nothing more than vengeance on Essie for what she did to him. He teams up with Boone, a shady thief with powers of magical persuasion—and while his power doesn’t work on Mal, he’s all too happy to play Mal’s fear and weakness to his advantage under the guise of being his only friend. Definitely a character readers will love to hate.

While both the romantic twist and the “true” nature of the monster growing in Mal are not hard to see coming, I love the way this ended and was more than happy to see a few despicable characters get exactly what they deserved! Many excited scenes that had my heart pounding, lots of adventure as they chase down a magical dagger. The only issues I had were with the frequent jumps to past stories that I found a bit jarring, but gave great insight to the story as a whole.

I’ll definitely be reaching for more work from this author in the future!
Find Kendall Kulper online:  Website  •  Twitter  •  Tumblr

Purchase the book:  Indiebound  •  BookDepository  •  Amazon

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

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 Kathleen Baldwin

hitting shelves May 24th, 2016
from Tor Teen
No official description for this one yet!! :D

My thoughts: So, not much official news on this one yet, aside from another gorgeous cover, but i
f you read a finished copy of A School for Unusual Girls, you know from the sneek peek at the end that Exile for Dreamers will be about the characters Tess and Lord Ravencross. They are two incredibly feisty and intriguing characters from the first book.  I can't wait to find out more about them!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

New Shelf Goodies & The Weekly Nutshell {143}

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)

Gorgeous things came to my door...
For review:
I am reading Madness so Discreet SOON. I've heard some mixed things about Dreamland so I'm a bit nervous about that one, but we'll see!

Traded for:
Thanks, Anna, for these!! So excited for both!

A few years ago I absolutely fell in love with this book, On the Fringe, so imagine my sheer delight to find out this author wrote this new book! AND she has another YA coming out in 2016!! So excited for both!

Thanks so much Harper Collins for the review books!

The Weekly Nutshell

First off, thanks to all who left kind words of support in the comments last week. It's been a tough time, but I'm getting through.  ♥
So as I'm writing this a gorgeous lightning storm is going on outside and the rain is just starting to fall. I looooove this weather, makes me want to cook up a big pot of comfy soup...which I did, this week. :)  On the reading front, I blew through Daughter Unto Devils this week, which scared the pants off me. Such a perfect Halloween read! I'll be reviewing this one over at Books Take You Places with a coordinating cupcake recipe this month for Fortnight of Fright! I also finished the audiobook of Nightmares! The Sleepwalker Tonic, so I'll be reviewing the series so far this week! Right now I'm finishing up Rebel Mechanics...this was a fun one! :)   Up next for me is Dreamstrider and then I may have to give in to copy continues to give me the "come hither" stare every time I pass my bookshelves lol.

Hope everyone has a great week!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Blog Tour: An Inheritance of Ashes by Leah Bobet

Today I'm excited to be a part of the official tour for Leah Bobet's new YA novel, 

This book, with it's promise of war, family secrets, and monsters, sounds so amazing! Read below for an exclusive excerpt and be sure to enter the giveaway below to win one of  three gorgeous finished copies!

by Leah Bobet
♦publisher: Clarion Books
♦release date: 
♦hardcover: 400 pages
♦intended audience: Young adult

The strange war down south—with its rumors of gods and monsters—is over. And while sixteen-year-old Hallie and her sister wait to see who will return from the distant battlefield, they struggle to maintain their family farm.

When Hallie hires a veteran to help them, the war comes home in ways no one could have imagined, and soon Hallie is taking dangerous risks—and keeping desperate secrets. But even as she slowly learns more about the war and the men who fought it, ugly truths about Hallie’s own family are emerging. And while monsters and armies are converging on the small farm, the greatest threat to her home may be Hallie herself.

A bird called, harsh and frightened, and I dared open my eyes. Dawn light pried through my thick-paned window. The sky above it was as blue and fine as my faded bedroom walls. The thunder rattled weaker, wet leaves on glass. My heart wouldn’t stop its frightened stutter. “He’s dead,” I muttered sternly, padded across the green rag rug and opened the window.
The yard stretched before me, brown and empty; the air smelled of woodsmoke and frost. I shoved my head into the chilly dawn outside, and the bare branches of trees, the barns, the gray river unscrolled sleepily into the sky. From below, from the leaf-clogged gutters, something let out a whimpered cheep. I reached down—
—and a small shape exploded in a fury of wings.
I shrieked.
It staggered and shrieked right back at me, a harsh, uncertain caw. Battered brown wings struggled for purchase on the sill; tiny claws scrabbled closer. I grabbed the window handles and jerked them down between us. The thin cry muffled as wood and glass slammed down—and then it rose to a scream. A dark smear fluttered between the thick panes and the white sill: the wing. It was nothing more than a stunned bird, and I’d just crushed its wing.
“Oh,” I breathed, and brushed river stones and hair clips messily off the sill. Bile stung my throat: You’ve killed it. It can’t even fight back. I shoved the window upward, fast, hands clutched under the bottom frame.
The wing slapped my hand so hard that everything stopped.
“Ow!” I cradled the hand close to my chest. Furious, ragged squawks trailed me back into the bedroom. “Sorry,” I whispered over and over, an exhausted litany of sorry that beat in time with my throbbing hand. The wing had left a red spot, as red as a bug-bite burn. I brushed it with idle fingernails.
They caught on something. Hard.
The thinnest edge of a cobweb was growing out of my left hand. It seared my window frame brown where it stuck, and the line it burned led straight to the bird’s desperate talons. I’d been too rattled, too guilty to see it: those eight black sparrow-nails were sticky-coated with web.
It wasn’t a bird. It was a Twisted Thing—one of the Wicked God Southward’s pet monsters.

*          *           *           *          *
Leah Bobet is a bookseller, publisher, and editor as well as a Pushcart-Prize nominated author. 

She lives in Toronto. 


Three finished copies of An Inheritance of Ashes are being given away tour-wide!
Enter below!
(US mailing address only)

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Thursday, October 1, 2015

What's New: October YA Release List & Giveaway!

Fall is here! ♥ Cooler temps, apple and pumpkin everything, leaves turning---but's still 95 degrees out here! :(  What is this?  *Sigh* Soon, soon my friends, it will be hot chocolate time, sweater and scarf weather, Halloween, all those things that make it my favorite time of year. But for now, I'm still just hot.  Hey whatya know! I wrote that yesterday, and it rained all day today! YAY! :D Welcome FALL!! 

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 September's giveaway is Sui! Congrats! 

October 2015 Releases:
Just like previous months, I've put a little lve by those books that I am really anticipating!

The Anatomy of Curiosity by Maggie Steifvater, Tessa Gratton, & Brenna Yovanoff
Becoming Darkness by Lindsay Francis Brambles
The Way Back from Broken by Amber J. Keyser

The Yearbook by Carol Masciola 

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell 
The Chess Queen Enigma by Colleen Gleason
Cinderella's Shoes by Shonna Slayton
The Detour by S.A. Bodeen
Dreamstrider by Lindsay Smit
Fated by Peggy Martinez
Future Perfect by Jen Larsen
House by Christina Lauren
An Inheritance of Ashes by Leah Bobet 
It's a Wonderful Death by Sarah J. Schmitt 
A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis 
My Secret to Tell by Natalie D. Richards
Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt
The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness 
Sing Down the Stars by L.J. Hatton
Sky Key by James Frey
Spinning Starlight by R.C. Lewis
A Step Toward Falling by Cammie McGovern
The Storm by Virginia Bergin
A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston 
We'll Never Be Apart by Emiko Jean 
The White Rose by Amy Ewing
Wild Sky by Suzanne Brockmann & Melanie Brockmann

Gathering Deep by Lisa Maxwell
If You Wrong Us by Dawn Klehr

The Beast of Cretacea by Todd Strasser
Black Widow Forever Red by Margaret Stohl 
Blue Voyage by Dianna Renn
Dark Tide by Jennifer Donnelly
The Devil and Winnie Flynn by Micol Ostow & David Ostow 
The Emperor of Any Place by Tim Wynne-Jones
First & Then by Emma Mills
Ice Like Fire by Sara Raasch
The Immortal Heights by Sherry Thomas
Juba! by Walter Dean Myers
MARTians by Blythe Woolston
The Masked Truth by Kelley Armstrong 
Newt's Emerald by Garth Nix 
No True Echo by Gareth P. Jones 
The Rose Society by Marie Lu
A Sky Unbroken by Megan Crewe
A Song for Ella Grey by David Almond 
Truly Madly Famously by Rebecca Serle
Trust Me, I'm Trouble by Mary Elizabeth Summer
Weird Girl and What's His Name by Meagan Brothers


Dead Investigation by Charlie Price
The Distance from Me to You by Marina Gessner
If You're Lucky by  Yvonne Prinz
Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff 
Loser Take All by David Klass
The Many Lives of John Stone by Linda Buckley-Archer 
Signs Point to Yes by Sandy Hall
Tell the Story to It's End by Simon P. Clark 
Time's Divide by Rysa Walker
Velvet Undercover by Teri Brown 
Willful Machines by Tim Floreen
Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin 

A Castle of Sighs by Jennifer Murgia
City of Halves by Lucy Inglis
Confessions: Murder of an Angel by James Patterson & Maxie Paetro
Dark Heart of Magic by Jennifer Estep
Diamonds are Forever by Michelle Madow
Fathomless by Anne M. Pillsworth
Flashes by Tim O'Rourke
Frosted Kisses by Heather Hepler
The Iron Warrior by Julie Kagawa
Persuasion by Martina Boone 
Placebo Junkies by J.C. Carleson
These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly 
Underneath Everything by Marcy Beller Paul
What We Left Behind by Robin Talley
The Winter Place by Alexander Yates
Winter Wolf by Rachel M. Raithby

(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 October release of their choice! *see note below
• Contest ends 
October 31th, 2015 at 11:59 PM
• Must be 13 or older.
• Open internationally. *International winners will be required to choose a book that is available through up to $20 value.
•Extra entries can be earned by commenting on
September or October reviews, and can be done once per review. Come back throughout October whenever you comment on my reviews and get your extra points!    

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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

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 Kelsey Sutton

hitting shelves April 26th, 2016
from Philomel
Fain hasn’t always been lonely. Her family used to be close; she used to have good friends. But as circumstances—and people—changed, Fain was left behind. That's when the monsters appeared.

While her parents argue and her peers and siblings either pick on or simply ignore her, Fain spends time in a world of her own making. During the day, she crafts stories of fantastical adventures, but in the darkness of night, these adventures come to life alongside a legion of imaginary creatures, with Fain as their queen.

In time, Fain begins to see possibilities and friendships emerge in her day-to-day, but when she is let down by the one relationship she thought she could trust, Fain must decide: remain queen of the imaginary creatures, or risk opening herself up to the fragile connections that can only be formed in the real world?

Told in lyrical free verse, The Lonely Ones reminds us of the need for imaginative play and the power of true friendship.

My thoughts: This sounds lovely--heartfelt, a little tearjerking, and very imaginative!  I really enjoyed Kelsey Sutton's lyrical writing in Some Quiet Place so I'm sure a book that is actually in verse will suit her style very well!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Wanderers by Kate Ormand {review}

The Wanderers
by Kate Ormand
♦publisher: Sky Pony Press
♦release date: September 1st, 2015
♦hardcover, 320 pages
♦intended audience: Young adult
♦stand alone
♦source: from publisher for honest review
Flo lives an eccentric life—she travels with a popular circus in which the main acts star orphaned children with secret shape-shifting abilities. Once Flo turns sixteen, she must perform, but she’s not ready. While practicing jumping a flaming hurdle in a clearing beside the circus, she spots a dark figure in the trees and fears he saw her shift. The news sends the circus into a panic.

In Flo’s world, shifters are unknown to humans with the exception of a secret organization—the EOS, referred to as “hunters.” Hunters capture and kill. They send some shifters to labs for observation and testing—testing they don’t often survive—and deem others useless, a danger to society, and eliminate them. To avoid discovery, shifters travel in packs, constantly moving and keeping themselves hidden. Up until now, the circus was the perfect disguise. 

Believing she has brought attention to the group, Flo feels dread and anxiety, causing her to make a mistake during her performance in front of the audience—a mistake that triggers a violent attack from the hunters.Flo manages to flee the torched circus grounds with Jett, the bear shifter who loves her; the annoying elephant triplets; and a bratty tiger named Pru. Together they begin a new journey, alone in a world they don’t understand and don’t know how to navigate. On the run, they unravel secrets and lies that surround the circus and their lives—secrets and lies that all point to the unthinkable: Have they been betrayed by the people they trusted most?

Review: While everyone knows not every book can be for every reader, The Wanderers was one I had high hopes for and found myself sorely disappointed . With the promise of a circus setting, a unique cast of shapeshifters, and a merciless powerful enemy, I was hoping to be drawn in, enchanted, and kept on the edge of my seat. Sadly, none of that happened. 

The story did flow along at a good pace.  There were a few moments that were really exciting or horrifying and kept me turning pages, wondering if maybe this would be the moment the story finally clicked for me. However, there were too many other plot twists that felt contrived, anticlimactic, or just not plausible. The storyline as a whole was okay, entertaining enough to get me to see it to the end.

My main issues with this book were with the writing style and the characters. The style felt choppy and disjointed and just wasn't appealing to me.  The story involves a huge cast of characters, most of which are unlikable and just awful towards each other, with the exception of Jett who is so "good" in contrast, he feels like an overly wise and angelic voice among them.  At times the other characters (including Flo, the main character) felt so immature and juvenile for their supposed ages,  it had me wondering if this was originally written as a middle grade. I might have been able to forgive a bit more whining, pouting, and childish behavior if they were suppose to be a bit younger. It almost felt like that was the case, and then the decision was made to up their ages, so a little romance, some graphic violence, and a few awkward swear words were thrown in. There were some good emotional moments that showed the characters caring for each other or their plight to find where they belong in the world, but it wasn't enough to overcome my frustration with all of them.  

The villians turn out to be the most obvious choice and though it tries to then make the reader feel a bit of compassion for them, I just wasn't biting. It may just be me, but when the synopsis of a book asks "have they been betrayed by the people they trusted most?", I kind of don't expect that to be the actual outcome.  The ending wraps up this chapter of the characters lives but leave it a bit open for a possible series. Unfortunately neither the story or the characters appealed to me enough to want to follow them into a second adventure.  

Find Kate Ormand online: Website  •  Twitter  •  Instagram

Purchase The Wanderers: Indiebound  •  BookDepository  •  Amazon