Friday, January 26, 2018

An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

A skilled painter must stand up to the ancient power of the faerie courts—even as she falls in love with a faerie prince—in this gorgeous debut novel.

Isobel is a prodigy portrait artist with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread, weave cloth, or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and Isobel’s paintings are highly prized. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes—a weakness that could cost him his life.

Furious and devastated, Rook spirits her away to the autumnlands to stand trial for her crime. Waylaid by the Wild Hunt’s ghostly hounds, the tainted influence of the Alder King, and hideous monsters risen from barrow mounds, Isobel and Rook depend on one another for survival. Their alliance blossoms into trust, then love—and that love violates the fair folks’ ruthless laws. Now both of their lives are forfeit, unless Isobel can use her skill as an artist to fight the fairy courts. Because secretly, her Craft represents a threat the fair folk have never faced in all the millennia of their unchanging lives: for the first time, her portraits have the power to make them feel.

 Opening line:
"My parlor smelled of linseed and spike lavender, and a dab of lead tin yellow glistened on my canvas."

A painter, a fae prince and romance; what could be better?

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake

The battle for the Crown has begun, but which of the three sisters will prevail?

With the unforgettable events of the Quickening behind them and the Ascension Year underway, all bets are off. Katharine, once the weak and feeble sister, is stronger than ever before. Arsinoe, after discovering the truth about her powers, must figure out how to make her secret talent work in her favor without anyone finding out. And Mirabella, once thought to be the strongest sister of all and the certain Queen Crowned, faces attacks like never before—ones that put those around her in danger she can’t seem to prevent.

In this enthralling sequel to Kendare Blake’s New York Times bestselling Three Dark Crowns, Fennbirn’s deadliest queens must face the one thing standing in their way of the crown: each other.

Apparently, I don't have a review for this one except WOW!

Friday, January 19, 2018

Mustaches for Maddie by Chad Morris & Shelly Brown

Maddie is a normal twelve-year-old girl. Well, except for the fake mustaches she carries in her pocket. She likes to make people laugh and slapping on a mustache, especially a fuzzy pink or neon green one, always gets a smile. Maddie hopes that the class queen, Cassie, will find her mustaches as funny as she does and want to play with her at recess. She's been self-conscious lately because her right arm only feels normal when it's curled against her chest and she's constantly tripping over her feet. But that's probably just part of growing up and not something weird, right?

It will take all of Maddie's vibrant imagination, a lot of kindness-both given and received-and of course, the perfect mustache to overcome the tough stuff ahead of her.


Opening line:
"Fact: mustaches are hilarious."

A perfect start to a story about a twelve-year old happy, thoughtful girl who finds a way simple way to be brave and funny: wear a mustache.
I wasn't sure what to expect from this book. A story from the parents point of view about their daughter's brain tumor or a sad story about how they coped with a medical scare or...I don't know what. What I did read was a fun, inspiring story told from a twelve-year old's perspective and how she, Maddie, handled her daily challenges and triumphs.
This a great book to hand to any young reader who is facing any challenge, be it bullies or sickness or loss. I love the aspect of being accepting and kind to others woven throughout the story! I also love that the authors/parents were able to turn their perspective into such a inspirational and rich lesson.

Thank you netgalley for the early, wonderful read!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Ever the Brave by Erin Summerill

Ever the Divided. Ever the Feared. Ever the Brave.
After saving King Aodren with her newfound Channeler powers, Britta only wants to live a peaceful life in her childhood home. Unfortunately, saving the King has created a tether between them she cannot sever, no matter how much she'd like to, and now he's insisting on making her a noble lady. And there are those who want to use Britta’s power for evil designs. If Britta cannot find a way to harness her new magical ability, her life—as well as her country—may be lost.

The stakes are higher than ever in the sequel to Ever the Hunted, as Britta struggles to protect her kingdom and her heart.

  Opening line:
"A minute spent in a Shaerdanian tavern is a minute too long."

I couldn't stop reading! I love Erin's writing and characters and plots and twists. And twists.
This book was faster paced than the first one and full of new characters and intrigues.
It is written between three points of view: Britta, Cohen and the king. I enjoyed reading from each of their perspectives and REALLY loved watching them grow and change. It seemed they could neveer catch a break! There wasn't much down time in the fight for good. That being said, each of the three main characters learned some hard lessons, fought for what was right and came to accept who they were and their responsibilities.
The biggest take away for me was that we can choose who we are and what we want to become. No one should do that for us, not parents, not friends, not anyone. We know ourselves best. We should know our best selves.

Language: Some
Sex: kissing, skin-to-skin for survival heat
Violence: fighting, killing

Thank you to netgalley for the early read!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk

Growing up in the shadows cast by two world wars, Annabelle has lived a mostly quiet, steady life in her small Pennsylvania town. Until the day new student Betty Glengarry walks into her class. Betty quickly reveals herself to be cruel and manipulative, and while her bullying seems isolated at first, things quickly escalate, and reclusive World War I veteran Toby becomes a target of her attacks. While others have always seen Toby’s strangeness, Annabelle knows only kindness. She will soon need to find the courage to stand as a lone voice of justice as tensions mount.

I didn't add a review of this book. I do remember being taken in by the writing and the characters. The story is sweet, profound and strong. I would have loved to read this one to my kids.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

The Bear and the Nightingale AND The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

 At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.

After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.

And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.

As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.

 Opening line:
"It was late winter in northern Rus', the air sullen with wet that was neither rain nor snow."

I really loved being immersed in the folklore of Russia in this book. Vasya is a fantastic protagonist! She's witty, stubborn, adventurous, and finds herself getting into a lot of trouble. But she's okay with that because moves to her own beat. She sees "creatures" around the house and woods and becomes a friend and protector to them. She was raised to leave food and other treats for them to pay them for protecting the town.
But two things happen that cause problems and heartache for the town: Vasya's father remarries and a priest moves in. The stepmother sees the creatures too but she has a negative view of them which is ironically opposite of her stepdaughter. She comes across as mentally unstable and the villagers stay clear of her.
The priest takes it upon himself to cleanse the village of the heretics and their beliefs. In the process, he turns the villagers against their own beliefs, which leads to the village being vulnerable to more evil and death.
There are a lot of Russian names that I found hard to keep track of until about half way through the book when I understood who was related to who, etc. I enjoyed learning about Russia in this time period through the story.

Thanks to netgalley for the early review!

Orphaned and cast out as a witch by her village, Vasya’s options are few: resign herself to life in a convent, or allow her older sister to make her a match with a Moscovite prince. Both doom her to life in a tower, cut off from the vast world she longs to explore. So instead she chooses adventure, disguising herself as a boy and riding her horse into the woods. When a battle with some bandits who have been terrorizing the countryside earns her the admiration of the Grand Prince of Moscow, she must carefully guard the secret of her gender to remain in his good graces—even as she realizes his kingdom is under threat from mysterious forces only she will be able to stop.

 Opening line:
"A girl rode a bay horse through a forest late at night."

The Girl in the Tower is every bit as good as the The Bear and the Nightingale. I love the main character, Vasya, and her strength, determination and love for her family. When Vasya is left with no choice to live her own life, she escapes by dressing up as a boy and riding a magical horse across Russia in the depth of winter. She is united to a brother, sister and cousin who are all unwitting players in a play of lies, deception and evil rulers.
Each character is painted in rich colors as well as the landscape and homes of Russia. And against the austere and bleak backdrop of Russia, Vasya shines even more as a strong, intelligent woman who will do what she knows is right.

Thank you netgalley for this early read! I loved it!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Delilah's Desserts by Melanie Jacobson, Heather b. Moore, Julie Wright

Welcome to Tangerine Street

Tangerine Street is a must-see tourist stop with a colorful mix of one-of-a-kind boutiques, unique restaurants, eclectic museums, quaint bookstores, and exclusive bed-and-breakfasts. Delilah's Desserts, situated in the middle of this charming collection of shops and caf├ęs on Tangerine Street, is a bakery that offers a different variety of desserts each day. The emotions that Delilah bakes into these desserts have a strange effect on customers, sometimes altering the course of their lives . . .

A Taste of Magic by Melanie Jacobson
"Delilah stepped back from the giant mixes and brushed a stray lock of her hair out of her face."

The Art of Love by Heather Moore
"Roxy Randall hated her name all through elementary school."

Much Ado about Cupcakes by Julie Wright
"KC glanced at her watch before taking a sip of her lemon-infused water."

I LOVE the stories from Tangerine Street!

2017 Readying Update

I read 137 books.
Which equals over 45,000 pages.
My longest read (I actually listened to it) was:

Here are a few of my favorite reads (in particular order) from last year: