Wednesday, December 7, 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 Wendy Spinale

hitting shelves May 9th, 2017
from Scholastic Press
Gwen, Pete, and the others have escaped from Everland. But the safe haven they hoped to find at Alnwick Castle doesn't exist. With the Queen of England on her deathbed, Duchess Alyssa has stepped in to lead, but things have gotten worse as the cure Doc created for the Horologia virus has mutated, accelerating the disease. The only possible solution he can think of is to go back to the virus's origin: an extinct poisonous apple.

Legend has it a tree bearing the apple might be found at the center of a deadly labyrinth hidden deep within Germany. A place that no one in their right mind enters. Leaving Pete in charge of the survivors, Alyssa sets out with only her sword, her wits, and the help of Maddox Hadder, a wild boy who oversees the castle gardens. To get to the center of the maze, she'll be forced to battle monsters more terrifying than her darkest nightmares.

But can anyone truly survive the madness of the maze? And what if there's no apple to be found there?

My thoughts:  I wish you all could have seen my daughter's face when I told her the gang from Everland (one of her favorite books this year..and one of mine, too, actually!) was going to be mixing it up with Alice in Wonderland and running though mazes full of monsters in Germany. The. Pure. JOY. 
So, here we both sit...waiting on Wednesday, and every day until May 9th when we can get our hands on this amazing thing!! 

What book are you eagerly anticipating this week?

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Ten New-To-Me Authors I Read in 2016!

I don't know why I don't participate in this meme more often...I love making lists :D Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  To find out more and check out future topics, click on over there!!


This week's topic is all about featuring the "New-to-Me" authors we all read this year!  In looking back through my reviews, I realized I read a LOT of books by authors I had previously read and loved. But I did find a few new favorites! Some of these are new to me---some of these are just NEW, but completely blew me away in their magical debut awesomeness! :D

This. was. amazing. A new favorite book by a new favorite author. When I have time, I definitely plan to go back and try some of her older stuff.  And her upcoming title, The Last Magician, sounds incredible!

Well, I certainly had my Peter Pan retellings covered this year. This steampunk-laced Neverland was a great one, and I can't wait to see this Neverland converge with Wonderland in her follow up, Umberland!

This author is anything but new, but this was my first time reading his work. And I loved it. Every Hidden Thing was one of my most anticipated books this year, and it was worth every second of waiting. 

I fell so in love with this book.  It was like You've Got Mail for the new generation, and absolutely just as charming. Julie B is going to change my outlook on reading contemporary stories. ♥

Another new favorite for me. I can't tell you how excited I am to continue this series with Dream Magic in 2017, and Burning Magic in 2018!!

Yep, I read my first Alexandra Bracken book with Passenger. And I totally fell in love with her amazing storytelling talents! Will definitely be seeking out her other work, and devouring Wayfarer soon!!

SUCH gorgeous writing. Loved The Crown's Game so much. The magic, the romance, the fooooood. This was definitely one of my favorite books this year. The wait for The Crown's Fate is killing me. 

This book was such a stunner. So adventurous and wildly romantic and just really fun and cool. I am lucky enough to have book 2 in my hands and it's all I can do not to throw everything aside and start it!! :D

This was one of the most imaginative stories I've read this year. So beautiful and dark and twisty.  I can't wait to read more of her amazing world-building in Crown of Wishes.


Somehow I jumped into Jay Kristoff's amazing writing with his first book for adults LOL.  It was bloody and violent and erotic---and I still ended up loving it xD.  No regrets and I'm definitely looking forward to more in this series and also trying out a few of his YA books!

That's my top ten! What new authors did YOU discover this year??

Thursday, December 1, 2016

What's New: December YA New Releases & 2016 Giveaway!

This cannot be, guys!! It's completely impossible!! How did the end of this year zoom up so fast?? When ever I think about it already being December, my head starts to spin a little. Wow. Where did it go?  Well, as much as it floors me, I'm always happy when this time of year rolls around. Usually it starts at Halloween for me, but this year, feeling so cruddy for most of September and October, I crapped out a bit on my favorite spooky holiday. :( So now for Christmas, I am so ready, I've got my decorations up and my house is all aglow, I start my days with a cheerful little cup of hot chocolate, and I've even made a sizable dent in my Christmas shopping already. Let's go, December

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!

Special note for December: As with most years, December is the month when the publishing world slows to a near halt. As you can see, from the list below, there are some great releases, but the list is comparatively small.  SO I've decided for this month's giveaway, the winner will get to choose any YA book released in 2016! Happy holidays, everyone, and GOOD LUCK! 

First things first! The winner of November's giveaway is Iana! Congrats!! :D



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

{1}

{2}
Everyday Magic by Emily Albright 
Teach Me to Forget by Erica M. Chapman

{6}
Air by Ryan Gattis
Black Moon by Romina Russell
The Blazing Star by Imani Josey 
Lock & Mori: Mind Games by Heather W. Petty 
Spindle by E.K. Johnston 
Split the Sun by Tessa Elwood
True Power by Gary Meehan

{13}
Crystal Storm by Morgan Rhodes
Forever, Again by Victoria Laurie 
Iceling by Sasha Stephenson 

{27}
Catalyst by Kristin Smith
Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill 
Rules of the Game by James Frey & Nils Johnson-Shelton
Secret of Heart Note by Stacey Lee 



(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 2016 release of their choice! *see note below
• Contest ends December 31st
, 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 
any 2016 reviews, and can be done once per review. Come back throughout December whenever you comment on my reviews and get your extra points! 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, November 30, 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 Emily Lloyd-Jones

hitting shelves August 8th, 2017
from Little, Brown BYR
When Dee Moreno makes a deal with a demon—her heart in exchange for an escape from a disastrous home life—she finds the trade may have been more than she bargained for. And becoming “heartless” is only the beginning. What lies ahead is a nightmare far bigger, far more monstrous than anything she could have ever imagined.

With reality turned on its head, Dee has only a group of other deal-making teens to keep her grounded, including the charming but secretive James Lancer. And as something grows between them amid an otherworldy ordeal, Dee begins to wonder: Can she give someone her heart when it’s no longer hers to give?

My thoughts:  While this description still leaves so many burning questions, it's got my curiously peaked!! Gorgeous cover, too---love the contrast of the dark grungy photo and the embroidered font. 

What book are you eagerly anticipating this week?

Sunday, November 27, 2016

New Shelf Goodies & The Weekly Nutshell {177}

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)

Some lovely mail this past week! One more thing to be grateful for! :D 
Bad Blood by Demitria Lunetta
Haunted dreams and boys with Scottish accents...that's all I need to know. 
Poison's Kiss by Breeana Shields
A fantastic sounding fantasy about a girl with the kiss of death.
The Dragon's Price by Bethany Wiggins
A dragon turns the tables on a rebellious princess. This sounds so fun!

Thank you so much, Random House, for these!! I'm super excited for all of them!!

I also received this fun box from Swoon Reads! I'll be taking this good advice and sharing that second copy of You Don't Know My Name soon!

Lastly, the  November Owlcrate box.  I actually got this last week, but I wanted to be sure everyone had received theirs before posting about it so I waited an extra week.  The special edition white cover is so stunning ♥♥♥, the tea is a delicious fruity herbal, and I love all the little extras!

The Weekly Nutshell
recent posts:
Review: Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst
Waiting on Wednesday: The Rattled Bones by S.M. Parker

Everyone have a lovely Thanksgiving?? I hope so!! Mine was full of family and laughter and lots and lots of wonderful food. :P  Always a good thing.  Not much else new...I've barely picked up my current book, The Alchemists of Loom, with the holidays kicking off. All the baking and then the shopping (I don't set foot in the stores on black friday, online shopping is definitely my thing lol), and then the recuperating from all the eating haha. I'm hoping to get back into the swing of reading this week.  
I've been avoiding Twitter like the plague since Friday, trying to avoid Gilmore Girls spoilers from all of those who got to binge watch it the first day it released.  We're doing our first watch tomorrow, my daughter's day off---complete with chinese take-out, tacos, pop tarts, and mallomars in true Gilmore Girl form!  We've been looking forward to this for so long, but it will be sad to finished these four because then it's really over. For good. So sad, but I still can't wait to see these.

Hope everyone has a fantastic week ahead!



Tuesday, November 22, 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 S.M. Parker

hitting shelves August 22nd, 2017
from Simon Pulse
Unearthing years of buried secrets, Rilla Brae is haunted by ghostly visions tied to the tainted history of a mysterious island in this haunting novel from the author of The Girl Who Fell.

Maine-bred, independent Rilla Brae is no stranger to the deep. She knows the rhythms of hard work and harder seas. But when she experiences the sudden death of her father, the veil between the living and the dead blurs and she begins to be haunted by a girl on a nearby, uninhabited island. The girl floats a song over the waves, and it is as beautiful as it is terrifying. Familiar and distant.

Then Rilla meets Sam, a University of Southern Maine archeology student tasked with excavating the very island where the ghostly girl has appeared. Sam sifts the earth looking for the cultural remains of an island people who were forcibly evicted by the state nearly a hundred years ago. Sam tells Rilla the island has a history no locals talk about—if they know about it at all—due to the shame the events brought to the working waterfront community. All Rilla knows for sure is that the island has always been there—an eerie presence anchored in the stormy sea. Now Sam’s work and the ghostly girl’s song lure Rilla to the island’s shores.

As Rilla helps Sam to unearth the island’s many secrets, Rilla’s visions grow—until the two discover a tragedy kept silent for years. And it’s a tragedy that has everything to do with Rilla’s past.
 

My thoughts:  Ghostly girls from mysterious islands and shadowy tragic pasts to be uncovered...YES this does sounds amazing. 

What book are you eagerly anticipating this week?

Monday, November 21, 2016

Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst {review}

Of Fire and Stars
by Audrey Coulthurst
♦publisher: Balzer & Bray
♦release date: November 22, 2016
♦hardcover, 400 pages
♦intended audience: Young adult
♦stand-alone
♦source: from publisher for honest review
Betrothed since childhood to the prince of Mynaria, Princess Dennaleia has always known what her future holds. Her marriage will seal the alliance between Mynaria and her homeland, protecting her people from other hostile lands. But Denna has a secret. She possesses an Affinity for fire—a dangerous gift for the future queen of a kingdom where magic is forbidden.

Now, Denna must learn the ways of her new home while trying to hide her growing magic. To make matters worse, she must learn to ride Mynaria’s formidable warhorses before her coronation—and her teacher is the person who intimidates her most, the prickly and unconventional Princess Amaranthine (called Mare), sister of her betrothed.

When a shocking assassination leaves the kingdom reeling, Mare and Denna reluctantly join forces to search for the culprit. As the two work together, each discovers there’s more to the other than she thought. Mare is surprised by Denna’s intelligence and bravery, while Denna is drawn to Mare’s independent streak. Soon their friendship is threatening to blossom into something more.
But with dangerous conflict brewing that makes the alliance more important than ever, acting on their feelings could be deadly. Forced to choose between their duty and their hearts, Mare and Denna must find a way to save their kingdoms—and each other.

Review: After starting out loving this one, by the end I came away with some pretty mixed feelings.

Both Denna and Mare were characters I really enjoyed. Denna is this sheltered out-of-place princess with a life-threatening secret and a desire to prove her worth in her new kingdom. Mare is such a wild child without a shred of care for what people think of her or expect of her, and a completely justified chip on her shoulder from years of being treated like her word was worth less than her younger brother's. From the time they meet, you see them go from spite to tolerating eachother, to trust and friendship, to desire, and finally realizing they've fallen in love. I liked that Mare showed so much doubt in Denna's feelings for her even after they'd been together, as a result of being surrounded by people who didn't show any confidence or belief in her. It made complete sense and I felt for her, even while being frustrated with her! I liked that Mare's confidence sparked bravery in Denna and slowly pulls her out of her sheltered box. Denna has it so ingrained in her that duty comes first that she makes some pretty selfish decisions, but she makes it back to the right ones in the end.  I also really loved that the LGBT aspect of this story was not written as an "issue". No one was shocked, it wasn't something they were hiding (well, not because of that, anyway). They, and many others in the story loved who they loved and it was the most natural thing in the world. As it should be--but this is one of the few stories that I've seen treat it that way and I loved that.

But romance aside, the rest of the storyline was very political and I found that part to be a bit boring. A lot of meetings of the directorates and talk of joining kingdoms and who is planning to attack who. For me, this dragged and I found myself putting the book down a lot during these parts.  The magical side of the story was interersting but not really fleshed out enough and same went for the different kingdoms and elemental gods they worshiped. I definitely wanted to know more about Zumordia, too!

One thing that I really didn't like about this one stood out quite a bit to me. Yes, the story of Denna and Mare was enchanting and sweet and a beautiful story of love between two young women.  But as a very stark contrast, almost every male in the story was a complete jerk. There is one, Mare's best friend, Nils, who was funny and charming and such a great friend to her, but even he was a bit of a womanizer. The king and the prince were just condescending and dismissive and bordering on cruel. It seemed like the one good and kind man in the story dies in the first few chapters.

The story picks up pace near the end, but also gets a bit rushed. There were some plot leads that fall off and get swept aside for an easy and obvious sort of ending and there's a bit of villanous monologuing. It was still pretty exciting and definitely an HEA. Not a read I regret, but definitely not one I loved as much as I'd hoped I would.


•ABOUT THE AUTHOR•

Audrey Coulthurst writes YA books that tend to involve magic, horses, and kissing the wrong people. Her debut novel, Of Fire and Stars, will be published on November 22, 2016 by Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins. When she’s not dreaming up new stories, she can usually be found painting, singing, or on the back of a horse.

Audrey has a Master’s in Writing from Portland State University, is a member of SCBWI, and studied with Malinda Lo as a 2013 Lambda Literary Foundation Fellow. She lives in Santa Monica, California.

WEBSITE   •   TWITTER   •   INSTAGRAM

Purchase the book:   Indiebound   •   BookDepository   •   Amazon