Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Last Ever After

The School for Good and Evil: The Last Ever After is the final book in the middle grade fantasy trilogy by Soman Chainani.

As a huge fan of The School for Good and Evil and The School for Good and Evil: A World Without Princes, I pre-ordered this last book.

If you have not read the prior two books, I would strongly suggest avoiding this review for any potential spoilers – the books are too good to spoil!!

I am trusting that you are not continuing to read unless you are already a fan…

Back in Gavaldon, Agatha is happy that her prince, Tedros, is not really a prince in her hometown – and neither is she a future queen. Yet, very quickly, she begins to doubt their Ever After.

Part of the problem is that Tedros and Agatha’s story has not truly finished yet – it is still being written. Their tale is still connected with Agatha’s old best friend, Sophie.

Now enemies with Agatha, Sophie has embraced the now young School Master, whom has convinced her of their love and that love on the side of Evil changes everything. Evil has taken over both schools and villains of the past are reawaken to change their fates.

Only Tedros and Agatha stand a chance against their prior best friend – only they can try to stem the tide of Evil taking over the entire realm…

Chainani is excellent at writing a story that is unpredictable. Primarily soaked in platonic friendship, rather than romance, The Last Ever After yet again has us questioning things. How far gone must someone be to no longer fight for them? When can you decide that someone you once loved dearly is beyond your help?

It also provides some other great questions about the reasons someone may turn to the Evil side – or even why they turned to Good. There’s a great chunk of the novels that are, subtly, quite philosophical.

On top of that, this finale is just as creative as the others – essentially rewriting and representing classic fairy tales while keeping its new one fresh. I personally love Agatha – she is very good hearted but struggles with self-doubt, meanwhile always keeping her snarky, smart humor. It’s a combo not seen often in female characters. Sophie is also complex and Tedros is given more dimension that you might initially expect.

All in all, this was a clever, rich, luxe conclusion to a wild ride of a fantasy trilogy. The ending was satisfying, even if I felt like I could use more. Personally, I could have used a little glimpse in the future or just… MORE. But leaving me wanting more, in this case, wasn’t such a terrible thing.

Really a great end to a great series. I look forward to more from Chainani in the future!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Through Waters Deep

Through Waters Deep is a Christian historical WWII era romance by Sarah Sundin. It is the first book in her Waves of Freedom series.

In 1941 Massachusetts, Mary Stirling enjoys her position as Boston Navy Yard secretary – she excels at it but happily can avoid any particular attention in her role. There’s nothing she likes less than attention…

When naval officer Ensign Jim Avery comes to Boston on a new assignment, they recognize each other as childhood friends – in fact, Mary clearly remembers Jim’s infatuation with her best friend.

As their friendship and camaraderie grows, events take a darker turn – someone seems to be sabotaging the USS Atwood. Tensions are growing regarding the divided opinion on potentially entering into the new war…

This is a dangerous time on the Boston shipyards…

I have previously enjoyed Sarah Sundin’s Wings of Glory series, as they have a rich historical background with WWII. Unlike some other historical fiction romances that brush over detail of the period, Sundin makes it come alive.

They also have a strong, patriotic vibe. Moving from the Air Force to the Navy, her novel was just as fascinating and elegant. Plus, the Christian element is always refreshing when done right – meaning without a preachy aspect. There was moment in particular that gave me chills – though I won’t give the details here.

Mary and Jim are both likable characters – they have childhood traumas that shape some of their adult personality and provide depth to them. Their relationship is slow building, grounded on getting to know each other and friendship – much appreciated for a reader like me that detests insta-love scenarios!

Mixed with the budding romance is a great mystery involving the impending war. It was eye-opening to see the resistance of many of the American people – as well as realizing how the American Navy was already under attack prior to Pearl Harbor, though it is not widely known.

I found Through Waters Deep to be a satisfying story and I will happily read book two when it is released!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Masque of the Black Tulip

The Masque of the Black Tulip is an adult historical novel with a contemporary mashup and the second in the Pink Carnation series by Lauren Willig.

Many years ago I read The Secret History of the Pink Carnation and enjoyed it. I am finally getting interested in continuing the series, which last I checked now has twelve novels and is not done yet!!

I would definitely recommend reading The Secret History of the Pink Carnation first, as it introduces the reader to the fictionalized world of flowery espionage in England during the days of the Napoleonic wars. We also first meet our cast of characters in it.

Though The Masque of the Black Tulip puts emphasis and focus on a different set of characters, they are within the same family and social circle. So, I still recommend reading it first.

Okay, now onto deets of The Masque of the Black Tulip!

Having discovered the shockingly delicious identity of the Pink Carnation, modern day graduate student Eloise has even more questions. Especially when she reads of the deadly French nemesis, the Black Tulip. Such a tantalizing morsel of info.

So, Eloise dives into the archives of the attractive but hard to read descendent Colin Selwick. Figuring out the old codebooks and chicken scratch writing in letters will probably be easier to do than interpreting the actions of her sometimes crush Colin.

Her research finds an unlikely pair at the center of the action, related to the Pink Carnation, who had every intention of stopping the Black Tulip. Not actually spies themselves, the two get mixed up in more than they possibly could handle – including finding themselves realizing romantic feelings in an extraordinarily bad time to do so…

The Masque of the Black Tulip was loads of fun!

I’ve seen some people complain about Eloise, that her contemporary role is boring compared to the romance and espionage of the Regency era we are primarily narrated in. I disagree, I find her appealing, hilarious and relatable.

Regarding the primary storyline during the Napoleonic wars, I found Henrietta a more likable character than Amy was in The Secret History of the Pink Carnation. Far less wanton and much more brainy and witty. That’s the way I like my gals!

Henrietta and her brother’s best friend Miles have some excellent dialogue interplay and they have a foundation in friendship – knowing each other very well – that makes the rest of the story play more smoothly and believably than the first novel, for me.

On the actual suspense and spying aspect, as it was so long since I read the first book, I did occasionally get a bit lost. Overall, though, it was an entertaining jaunt of a novel. It was lighthearted to read with an adventurous spark, delightful humor and plenty of romantic tension. It didn’t take itself TOO seriously, making The Masque of the Black Tulip an enjoyable mystery!

I will continue to dive into this series – though I am still not in state to scramble all over myself to get the next book. It’ll happen when it happens.

I *am* curious about what happens with Eloise and Colin though…

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Spark Cover Reveal!

Holly Schindler’s Spark:


When the right hearts come to the Avery Theater—at the right time—the magic will return. The Avery will come back from the dead.
Or so Quin’s great-grandmother predicted many years ago on Verona, Missouri’s most tragic night, when Nick and Emma, two star-crossed teenage lovers, died on the stage. It was the night that the Avery’s marquee lights went out forever.

It sounds like urban legend, but one that high school senior Quin is now starting to believe, especially when her best friend, Cass, and their classmate Dylan step onto the stage and sparks fly. It seems that magic can still unfold at the old Avery Theater and a happier ending can still be had—one that will align the stars and revive not only the decrepit theater, but also the decaying town. However, it hinges on one thing—that Quin gets the story right this time around.
Holly Schindler brings the magic of the theater to life in this tale of family ties, fate, love, and one girl’s quest to rewrite history.

~

“In my hometown, the restoration of a former movie theater on the town square provided the genesis for my new YA novel, SPARK. Who among us hasn’t dreamed of seeing their name in blazing neon across a gigantic marquee? Let me invite you to dim the lights and draw back the velvet curtains—let your imagination run wild as you enter my fictional Avery Theater, where literally anything goes…”
—Holly Schindler

~


Holly Schindler is the author of three previous YA novels: PLAYING HURT as well as the critically acclaimed FERAL (starred PW review) and A BLUE SO DARK (starred Booklist review, ForeWord Book of the Year silver medal, IPPY gold medal). A writer of books for all ages, Schindler’s MG, THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY, has made the master list for children’s book awards in Illinois, South Carolina, and Alabama. She is also a hybrid author, having independently released comedic women’s fiction (FIFTH AVENUE FIDOS) and the forthcoming PLAY IT AGAIN, her adult follow-up to her YA PLAYING HURT. She can be reached through her author site: hollyschindler.com, and hosts special sneak peeks and giveaways for subscribers of her newsletter: tinyletter.com/hollyschindler.com

~


Spark “Premieres” May 17, 2016, but you can buy your “tickets” now. Links to pre-order -

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Spark-Holly-Schindler/dp/0062220233/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1443300868&sr=8-1&keywords=spark+holly+

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/spark-holly-schindler/1122566794?ean=9780062220233

IndieBound: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780062220233

Add to your TBR list -
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26155766-spark

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts

The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts is a YA paranormal contemporary novel and the first in The Unbelievables series by K. C. Tansley.

As a child, ghosts were normal to Kat. They were around often, taught her about ghosts and how they came to be – and they were her friends.

But when a frightening series of events made ghosts a greater threat to Kat, she had to consciously decide to no longer believe in them. If you don’t believe in ghosts you cannot be hurt by them.

Now in her junior year at McTernan Academy, Kat has been kept safe by her strident disbelief – making sure to surround herself with other unbelievers to stay strong.

However, a research project she is assigned to threatens to ruin all of the protections she has put in place for years. Once she is sent to a private island off the coast of Connecticut to investigate the details of the shocking murder of newlyweds in 1886, and the rumored resultant ancestral curse, Kat is in a poor position to continue to ignore her connection with ghosts.

This magnifies when it becomes clear that Castle Creighton is definitely haunted, as most old buildings are, and there are beings that want Kat to learn everything about that fateful day in 1886…

Believe it or not, I still managed to give less detail of the plot of The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts than the back cover did. I am a strong believer in not knowing everything before you jump in. Makes it way more fun!

Anywho, The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts was a good read! Kat is a likable, normal girl as a heroine. I admit I am not sure how you cannot believe in something you know exists. That whole aspect seemed odd to me – since Kat is constantly aware that ghosts ARE real. Sort of confusing. But whatevs!

Happily, the characters and plot itself was page-turning to move beyond that little kerfuffle of mine. There’s a general creepiness to the island and the details of the mysterious, bloody murder. There’s a sense of suspense, as well, that kept me interested.

It was a decent, involving mystery with just a little bit of romantic tension and lots of ghostly apparitions – good and bad. I enjoyed it!

By the end of The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts, I was sure I would give book two a read if/when I get the chance! I am intrigued to see where the story goes from here as not ALL of the threads were tied, we’ve still got some danglers.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Today is World Teacher's Day!

As someone with many teachers in her family, I would be remiss to not highlight World Teacher's Day! Below find an Infographic, care of Grammarly:

World Teacher Day

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Guest Post - Author Elisabeth Wheatley!

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thekeyofamatahns_LARGE In a land where those with magic are esteemed and revered, Janir guards a secret that would send her to the headsman's block at a word. As one of the reviled Argetallams, she has the power to destroy enchantments and steal others' magic—an ability that has caused bloodshed for generations.



Raised as the illegitimate daughter of an influential lord, she was determined to turn her back on her heritage, but when her power manifests, leaving a nobleman dead, she has no choice but to flee her adoptive home. In exile with the help of a fearless young enchanter and an elf sworn to protect her, she finds herself entangled in a quest to hide an ancient artifact from the kingdom’s enemies.



But they are not the only ones after the relic and soon their paths cross with a rival from Janir's distant childhood. With no hope of help or rescue, the fate of nations will depend on a fifteen year old girl and her mastery of powers she doesn't understand.



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Guest Post by the Author

 















Five Favorites in
Fantasy: Characters Hunted for their Power

Janir isn’t hunted so
much over people wanting her power versus hating it, but it’s a common theme in
fantasy literature. Characters with powers, especially those whose powers are
exceptionally rare and/or strong, are often hunted and sought for it.

Han (The Demon King
by Cinda Williams Chima)
Han is interesting
because he has no idea he has these powers at first. They’re all shackled up
inside him and he has no clue even as the reader figures it out pretty early
on. He’s one of my favorites because of how he looks out for his sister and
tries his darnedest to turn his life around. He was a fascinating take on the
“ex-gang member” archetype and kudos to Ms. Chima.

Senna (Witch Song
by Amber Argyle)
Every so often, it is
nice to read about a girl who manages to be bad@$$ without wielding something
sharp. Senna pulls this off a few times over. You go, girl!

Astrid (Broken by
Mande Matthews)
On second thought, it is nice
to have a shieldmaiden in your stories now and again. All the same, Astrid is
so vulnerable and lonely and struggling to find her place in the grand scheme
of things. Poor baby.

Qinnitan
(Shadowheart by Tad Williams)
If Han has now idea of
his power, Qinnitan wouldn’t know it if hers smacked her in the face. Even the
reader might have doubts at first, but I assure you, she has it! She was a new
take on the “forced marriage” story, particularly in that she doesn’t want to
escape because of the risks involved to herself and others. But Fate (or
perhaps Mr. Williams) has other plans…

Kaliel (Vulture by
Rhiannon Paille)
This is one series I
have been addicted to for years. Kaliel dies and is reborn and every time she
does, the Valtanyana (baddies of über proportions) crawl out of the woodwork to
come and get her. The series is fixing to wrap up and I expect—no—I demand their deaths to put an end to
this madness.



About the AuthorWheatley Pictures33_s1-cropped

Elisabeth Wheatley began what would be her first novel at eleven and hasn’t stopped writing since. When she’s not daydreaming of elves, vampires, and/or hot guys in armor, she can be found wasting time on the internet, fangirling over her latest obsession, and pretending to be a functional citizen.

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