Sunday, May 29, 2016

New Shelf Goodies & The Weekly Nutshell {164}

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)


Here's all the lovely things that have landed on my doorstep these past two weeks!
For review:
♥.♥ Been looking forward to this one for ages!!
As much as I squealed when I opened this, I feel like a total heel getting it. LOL. I requested it awhile ago and didn't hear back. So I made a trade for it, and then it showed up from the pub. *sigh* when will I learn LOL. Never. Especially about books I am desperately impatient for!!
I love this author---sometimes. LOL This one sounds so amazing, though. 
Okay, so I DNFed her last book. But this sounds incredible (time travel & 19th century Japan!!)so I'm eager to try her work again!
On the fence on this one--hearing such mixed reviews! Hope I love it though!
I've been seeing some lovely thoughts by one of my most trusted bookish twins (hi, Britt!), so I'm hoping to read this one soon!
I was excited about this one, then I saw some questionable reviews. Not so sure anymore. Might still try it though, since I love all things Alice. :)
These six, I'll be keeping my eye out for reviews. I don't real a lot of straight up contemp fiction, so it really has to get some "you can't miss this" raves before I'll pick it up. 
I have heard of this author's books--they all look so intense! I might give this one a try.

Gifted:
Eeeee---Thank you, Jaime!!  


Another awesome thing I got this week was this gorgeous Shadow Magic box. LOOK at the cool glossy bats on the box and pretty letter!♥ I'm such a sucker for touches like this, and I love this even more because I've already read and adored this wonderful book.  You can check out my review of Shadow Magic here. I'm reviewing it again for San Diego Book Review, that's where the box came from :D

SO much thanks go out to HarperTeen, Macmillan, Disney-Hyperion, Abrams, Penguin, & Merit Press for the lovely books to review! 


The Weekly Nutshell
{Tuesday} Blog tour review: Exile for Dreamers
{Wednesday} Waiting on Wednesday : Traveler by L.A. Delano 


Laaazy blogger this week lol. But lots of fun family time, so yay :D It was my littlest one's last day of school, so summer is officialy kicked off now. He also promoted to his orange belt in karate..proud mama. He loves it so much and it's the perfect outlet for all his crazy energy!  It was also my daughter's birthday so we snuck her off to Monterey for a day of exclusive spoiling. ;) 
I started reading Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies  this week, and really enjoying it so far, despite a few love/hate moments with the main character! It certainly keeping me on my toes. Next up is My Lady Jane and I can't wait to start it!! Might sneak in a few chapters while I'm still reading Rocks Fall. LOL  

What are you all reading this week? Anything you highly recommend?? Let me know! :D

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

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 L.E. DeLano

hitting shelves February 7, 2017
from Swoon Reads
Jessa has spent her life dreaming of other worlds and writing down stories more interesting than her own, until the day her favorite character, Finn, suddenly shows up and invites her out for coffee. After the requisite nervous breakdown, Jessa learns that she and Finn are Travelers, born with the ability to slide through reflections and dreams into alternate realities.

But it’s not all steampunk pirates and fantasy lifestyles…Jessa is dying over and over again, in every reality, and Finn is determined that this time, he’s going to stop it… this Jessa is going to live.

My thoughts:  Sorry, people, I tried to wait a little closer to publication to pick this one, but I loooove that cover and I need to have the loveliness gracing my blog! ♥.♥  Not to mention the story sounds fantastic. Oh, it's not all steampunk pirates and fantasy?? Because I would have read it just for that. :)  My only sadness is that Swoon Reads only publish in paperback--because this beauty definitely deserves hardcover glory. 

What book are you eagerly anticipating this week?

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Exile for Dreamers by Kathleen Baldwin {blog tour review + giveaway}

Today I am super excited to be hosting the Rockstar Book Tour stop for
EXILE FOR DREAMERS!!

This book is such a fun series so far, definitely one to check out if you love adventure, alittle history, a little steampunkery, and a great group of characters!  First check out my review and then be sure to enter for a chance to win a copy!

by Kathleen Baldwin
♦publisher: Tor Teen
♦release date: May 24th, 2016
♦hardcover, 384 pages
♦intended audience: Young adult
♦series: Stranje House, book 2
  review of book one, School for Unusual Girls
♦source: from publisher for honest review
It’s 1814. Napoleon has escaped his imprisonment on Elba. Europe is in shambles. Britain is at war on four fronts. And at Stranje House, a School for Unusual Girls, five young ladies are secretly being trained for a world of spies, diplomacy, and war.

Tess Aubreyson can’t run far enough or fast enough to escape the prophetic dreams that haunt her. Dreams bring nothing but death and grief, and Tess refuses to accept that she may be destined for the same madness that destroyed her mother. Until her disturbing dreams become the only means of saving Lord Ravencross, the man she loves, and her fellow students at Stranje House. Tess’s old friend, the traitorous Lady Daneska, and Ghost, the ruthless leader of the Iron Crown, have returned to England, intent on paving the way for Napoleon’s invasion. Can the young ladies of Stranje House prevail once more? Or is England destined to fall into the hands of the power-mad dictator?
 

Review: So fun.  I really enjoyed the first book, School for Unusual Girls, but I had the feeling I would love Exile for Dreamers more. Why? Because in the first book, we followed Georgie, who was brilliant and clever, but just a bit...annoying. This one, however, followed Tess, a girl at the school that I was constantly curious to know more about. Especially her dealings with the equally wild tempered Lord Ravencross! :D  I was not disappointed at all and my need to get more into their story was definitely satisfied!

The story itself takes up just after where book one left off.  A few new faces come on the scene and I love that they are both important additions to this story, but you can also see where they might play out in future books (and with future POVs from the other girls at Stranje House ;D ).  This time around, both Tess's dreams and a dangerous attempted kidnapping lead them to believe an attack is coming. They group formulates a plan to at least make it look like England may be ready to fight back, and it forces Tess to deal with some pretty heavy emotional scars from her old friend, Lady Daneska, all while keeping the desire to kill her in check. 

Tess is plagued by terrifying dream visions--and she is sure she'll end up like her mother, that the dreams will drive her to madness and eventually death. Tess is such a wild thing---temperamental, a fighter, always running off through the fields with her wolf dogs at her side to clear her head or shake her fears. But she is also heartstrong, passionate, clever, and caring for both her schoolmates and teacher that are the only family she knows. The romance between her and Gabriel Ravencross is so intense because she wants him but she doesn't want to put him through seeing her taken by madness. The tension between them is near combustible..and I loved it! They both seem so serious and fiery and unwaveringly stubborn, making the tender moments between them feel so much sweeter. 

With the exciting end, I'm already eager to pick up the next book, Refuge for Masterminds, the continuing story as told from Jane's view---and possibly involving the American visitor, Mr. Sinclair?? I hope so! :D




•ABOUT THE AUTHOR•
I love adventure in books and in real life. I've roamed the Rocky Mountains, wandered the desert, enjoyed way too many classes in college, was stalked by a mountain lion, lost an argument with a rattlesnake, fell in love at least a dozen times, finally met and married my very own hero, and together we've raised four free-spirited children."

Award-winning author - Kensington published four of Kathleen's Regency romantic comedies, including MISTAKEN KISS, a Holt Medallion finalist. DIARY OF A TEENAGE FAIRY GODMOTHER, was a Golden Quill finalist. Her upcoming Historical YA series with TorTeen, A SCHOOL FOR UNUSUAL GIRLS, is a Junior Library Guild Selection and won a Marlene.


News and more at: www.Kathleenbaldwin.com




♦GIVEAWAY!! ♦
3 fabulous copies up for grabs! Enter to win one below. 
•US/CAN addresses only please

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, May 20, 2016

The Star Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi {review}


The Star-Touched Queen
by  Roshani Chokshi
♦publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
♦release date: April 26th, 2016
♦hardcover, 342 pages
♦intended audience: Young adult
♦stand-alone (with forthcoming companion)
♦source: from publisher for honest review
Fate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you’re only seventeen?

Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of death and destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire…

But Akaran has its own secrets—thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most…including herself.

Review: The Star-Touched Queen is a gorgeous story of love and power, deception and forgiveness. It’s artfully written in beautiful prose full of lush description and metaphor.  It felt like a blend of Alice in Wonderland (with its bizarre creatures and dream-like atmosphere) and the Persephone myth, both deliciously steeped in the colors and flavors and vibrancy of India.

Maya is a fantastic character, both headstrong and heart-led. She is in a constant struggle to overcome being outcast because of her dreadful horoscope, something those around her put a lot of stock in.  Her destiny is inescapably linked with death, so of course, no one wants to be too near her, except her little half- sister, Gauri. This one relationship shapes Maya’s determination throughout the story, and I loved that. 

I found the love story to be a heady mix of sultry romance and danger. From the get-go, you can feel something dark about Amar but he’s so kind and adoring, anyone can easily see how he would be irresistible to Maya, especially after years of everyone rejecting her.  But that same thing also gives room for doubt to easily grow, especially when someone from Maya's past steps in.   

There was only one small turn in the story where I found my attention waning a bit, a part where Maya’s fortune changes and the plot tangents off so she can do a little soul searching,  but it was still interesting---new characters introduced, new revelations discovered. And in the end, I found my way back to being engaged in her story.  The Star-Touched Queen is a beautiful, creative, and enchanting fantasy. Can't wait for more stories in this world. 

•ABOUT THE AUTHOR•

Roshani Chokshi comes from a small town in Georgia where she collected a Southern accent, but does not use it unless under duress. She grew up in a blue house with a perpetually napping bear-dog. At Emory University, she dabbled with journalism, attended some classes in pajamas, forgot to buy winter boots and majored in 14th century British literature. She spent a year after graduation working and traveling and writing. After that, she started law school at the University of Georgia where she's learning a new kind of storytelling. The Star-Touched Queen is her first novel.


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Thursday, May 19, 2016

Old Books, New Looks {16}

Time again for another round of Old Books, New Looks, where I feature the covers of books that have already been released and their redesigned paperback counterpart! :) Sometimes I like the new better, sometimes I like the old. Here's a few that I've come across lately:



  The OLDIES   vs.  The NEWBIES 
Ack. Don't. The first design was too perfect for this wild, bizarre, eerily disorienting (in a good way lol) story and I hate to see it change. 

Both are appealing, both have a pretty similar feel. But I do like the original more, with the hint of blood on the sword and the larger title font. 

Nah, should have left this one alone. The new one is pretty, but ZERO points for originality. 

I adore the new cover. I love the interest of an elegant lady wearing a skull pendant and I love the distressing. 

The original was pretty, especially in person, but I far prefer the new one with the ghostly pale hands and the soft colors of the flowers. So pretty. 

Both of the these are really interesting and both have pretty symbolic meaning to them as far as a story about lost faith. But if I picked up the second based just on the cover, I would think it was MG. 

I did like the original cover...until I saw the new ones (this one and the one for the second book). The second is much more fun and the spiral background gives it a funky retro feel. Love it.  

What a great change.  The first one was just unappealing to me. I really love the painted redesign. Plus it's about an artist---I appreciate significant touches like that. 

I love the new look, the style is definitely what is on trend right now (the sort of candid photo + fun font combo), plus I love that it depicts "the five" that the story is about, with one on her own as the main character. 


So---Like the old? New? Neither? LOL 
I'd love to hear what you think of these changes!! 


Tuesday, May 17, 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.
Unnatural Deeds
by Cyn Balog

hitting shelves November 1th, 2016
from Sourcebooks Fire
Secrets. Obsession. Murder. Victoria is about to discover just how dangerous it can be to lose yourself.

Victoria Zell doesn’t fit in, but she’s okay with that. All she needs is the company of her equally oddball boyfriend, Andrew. She doesn’t care what anyone else thinks…until magnetic, charming, mysterious Z comes into her life, and she starts lying to everyone she knows in an effort to unravel his secrets.

And then something terrible happens. Someone is dead and it’s time for Victoria to come clean. Interspersed with news clippings and police interviews, Victoria tells her story to Andrew, revealing her dark, horrible secrets…secrets that have finally come back to haunt her.
 

My thoughts:  Love, love, love the eerie sounds of this murderous tale.  And while I haven't read this author in a long time, I know she can bring on the creepy. Plus, this cover---gorgeous stuff.  

What book are you eagerly anticipating this week?

Monday, May 16, 2016

The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You by Lily Anderson {blog tour & excerpt}

Today the blog tour for the awesome debut The Only Thing Worse Than Me is You is rolling though!! Are you all as excited for this one as I am?  It's been called hilarious & heartfelt & geeky & I see lots of Doctor Who references---so this is definitely one I am dying to read!  Today I'm giving you a peek inside with an excerpt of chapter one! 


♦publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
♦release date: May 17th, 2016
♦hardcover, 352 pages
♦stand alone, contemporary

Trixie Watson has two very important goals for senior year: to finally save enough to buy the set of Doctor Who figurines at the local comic books store, and to place third in her class and knock Ben West--and his horrendous new mustache that he spent all summer growing--down to number four.

Trixie will do anything to get her name ranked over Ben's, including give up sleep and comic books--well, maybe not comic books--but definitely sleep. After all, the war of Watson v. West is as vicious as the Doctor v. Daleks and Browncoats v. Alliance combined, and it goes all the way back to the infamous monkey bars incident in the first grade. Over a decade later, it's time to declare a champion once and for all.

The war is Trixie's for the winning, until her best friend starts dating Ben's best friend and the two are unceremoniously dumped together and told to play nice. Finding common ground is odious and tooth-pullingly-painful, but Trixie and Ben's cautious truce slowly transforms into a fandom-based tentative friendship. When Trixie's best friend gets expelled for cheating and Trixie cries foul play, however, they have to choose who to believe and which side they're on--and they might not pick the same side.

Take a peek at Chapter One!!

Chapter One
            Ben West spent summer vacation growing a handlebar mustache.
            Seriously.
            Hovering over his upper lip—possibly glued there—was a bushy monstrosity that shouted, “Look out, senior class, I’m gonna tie some chicks to the train tracks and then go on safari with my good friend Teddy Roosevelt. Bully!”
            I blindly swatted at Harper with my comic book, trying to alert her to the fact that there was a mustachioed moron trying to blend in with the other people entering campus.
            “I know I should have made flash cards for the poems that Cline assigned,” she said, elbowing me back hard, both acknowledging that she wasn’t blind and that she hated when I interrupted her monologues about the summer reading list. “But I found Mrs. Bergman’s sociolinguistics syllabus on the U of O website and I’m sure she’ll use the same one here.”
            The mustache twitched an attempt at freedom, edging away from West's ferrety nose as he tried to shove past a group of nervous looking freshmen. It might have been looking at me and Harper, but its owner was doing everything possible to ignore us, the planter box we were sitting on, and anything else that might have been east of the wrought iron gate.
            “So,” Harper continued, louder than necessary considering we were sitting two inches apart. “I thought I’d get a head start. But now I’m afraid that we were supposed to memorize the poems for Cline. He never responded to my emails.”
            Pushing my comic aside, I braced my hands against the brick ledge. The mustache was daring me to say something. Harper could hear it too, as evidenced by her staring up at the sun and muttering, “Or you could, you know, not do this.”
 “Hey, West,” I called, ignoring the clucks of protest coming from my left. “I’m pretty sure your milk mustache curdled. Do you need a napkin?”
Ben West lurched to a stop, one foot inside of the gate. Even on the first day of school, he hadn’t managed to find a clean uniform. His polo was a series of baggy wrinkles, half tucked into a pair of dingy khakis. He turned his head. If the mustache had been able to give me the finger, it would have. Instead, it stared back at me with its curlicue fists raised on either side of West’s thin mouth.
“Hey, Harper,” he said. He cut his eyes at me and grumbled, “Trixie.”
            I leaned back, offering the slowest of slow claps. “Great job, West. You have correctly named us. I, however, may need to change your mantle. Do you prefer Yosemite Sam or Doc Holliday? I definitely think it should be cowboy related.” 
            “Isn’t it cruel to make the freshmen walk past you?” he asked me, pushing the ratty brown hair out of his eyes. “Or is it some kind of ritual hazing?” 
            “Gotta scare them straight.” I gestured to my blonde associate. “Besides, I’ve got Harper to soften the blow. It’s like good cop, bad cop.”
            “It is nothing like good cop, bad cop. We’re waiting for Meg,” Harper said, flushing under the smattering of freckles across her cheeks as she turned back to the parking lot, undoubtedly trying to escape to the special place in her head where pop quizzes—and student council vice presidents—lived. She removed her headband,  pushing it back in place until she once again looked like Sleeping Beauty in pink glasses and khakis. Whereas I continued to look like I’d slept on my ponytail.
Which I had because it is cruel to start school on a Wednesday.      
            “Is it heavy?” I asked Ben, waving at his mustache. “Like weight training for your face? Or are you just trying to compensate for your narrow shoulders?”
            He gave a half-hearted leer at my polo. “I could ask the same thing of your bra.”
            My arms flew automatically to cover my chest, but I seemed to be able to only conjure the consonants of the curses I wanted to hurl at him. In his usual show of bad form, West took this as some sort of victory. 
            “As you were,” he said, jumping back into the line of uniforms on their way to the main building. He passed too close to Kenneth Pollack, who shoved him hard into the main gate, growling, “Watch it, nerd.”
            “School for geniuses, Kenneth,” Harper called. “We’re all nerds.”
            Kenneth flipped her off absentmindedly as West brushed himself off and darted past Mike Shepherd into the main building.  
            “Brute,” Harper said under her breath.
            I scuffed the planter box with the heels of my mandatory Mary Janes. “I’m off my game. My brain is still on summer vacation. I totally left myself open to that cheap trick.” 
            “I was referring to Kenneth, not Ben,” she frowned. “But, yes, you should have known better. Ben’s been using that bra line since fourth grade.”
As a rule, I refused to admit when Harper was right before eight in the morning. It would just lead to a full day of her gloating. I hopped off of the planter and scooped up my messenger bag, shoving my comic inside.
“Come on. I’m over waiting for Meg. She’s undoubtedly choosing hair care over punctuality. Again.”
Harper slid bonelessly to her feet, sighing with enough force to slump her shoulders as she followed me through the front gate and up the stairs. The sunlight refracted against her pale hair every time her neck swiveled to look behind us. Without my massive aviator sunglasses, I was sure I would have been blinded by the glare.
“What’s with you?” I asked, kicking a stray pebble out of the way.
“What? Nothing.” Her head snapped back to attention, knocking her glasses askew. She quickly straightened them with two trembling hands. “Nothing. I was just thinking that maybe senior year might be a good time for you to end your war with Ben. You’d have more time to study and read comics and…”
            Unlike the tardy Meg, Harper was tall enough that I could look at her without craning my neck downward. It made it easier to level her with a droll stare. Sometimes, it’s better to save one’s wit and just let the stupidity of a thought do the talking.
She rolled her eyes and clucked again, breezing past me to open the door.  
            “Or not,” she said, swinging the door open and letting me slip past her. “Year ten of Watson v. West starts now. But if one of you brings up the day he pushed you off the monkey bars, I am taking custody of Meg and we are going to sit with the yearbook staff during lunch.”
            “I accept those terms,” I grinned. “Now help me think of historical figures with mustaches. Hitler and Stalin are entirely too obvious. I need to brainstorm before we get homework.” 

•ABOUT THE AUTHOR•
credit: Sarah Lambert

Lily Anderson is an elementary school librarian and Melvil Dewey fangirl with an ever-growing collection of musical theater tattoos and Harry Potter ephemera. She lives in Northern California. THE ONLY THING WORSE THAN ME IS YOU 
is her debut novel.


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