Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: In a Perfect World

This is a weekly meme hosted by Jill from Breaking the Spine.  "Waiting on Wednesday" spotlights upcoming releases that I'm eagerly anticipating.

In a Perfect World by Trish Doller 
Pub. Date: May 23, 2017

Goodreads says, "Caroline Kelly is excited to be spending her summer vacation working at the local amusement park with her best friend, exploring weird Ohio with her boyfriend, and attending soccer camp with the hope she’ll be her team’s captain in the fall.  But when Caroline’s mother is hired to open an eye clinic in Cairo, Egypt, Caroline’s plans are upended. Caroline is now expected to spend her summer and her senior year in a foreign country, away from her friends, her home, and everything she’s ever known.  With this move, Caroline predicts she’ll spend her time navigating crowded streets, eating unfamiliar food, and having terrible bouts of homesickness. But what she finds instead is a culture that surprises her, a city that astounds her, and a charming, unpredictable boy who challenges everything she thought she knew about life, love, and privilege.  From critically acclaimed author Trish Doller comes an honest, hopeful, and romantic story about the barriers we tear down for the people and places we love most."

Doesn't this sound fantastic? The fact that it takes place in Egypt make it a really unique "summer read." Also, how gorgeous is this cover? I think it may be one of my favorites of 2017.  Let me know your thoughts. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Halloween Books For Kids

Halloween is such a fun time for little ones and we love reading "spooky" books together this time of the year.  Here are the current favorites in my house:

1.  It's Pumpkin Day, Mouse! by Lauren Numeroff
2.  Eeek! Halloween! by Sandra Boynton


4.  Biscuit's Pet and Play Halloween by Alyssa Satin Capucilli

5.  The Berenstain Bears Trick or Treat by Stan and Jan Berenstain
6.  Where is Baby's Pumpkin? by Karen Katz

7.  Five Little Pumpkins by Ben Mantle
8.  One, Two....Boo! by Kristen L. Depken


9.  Haunted Clubhouse by Marcy Kelman 
10.  Room on the Broom by Julie Donaldson

11.  Happy Halloween, Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt
12.  My First Halloween Board Book by DK Publishing

Check out some of the other Halloween posts I've shared in the past:

What are some of your favorite children's books to read or share with a little one on Halloween? Let me know in the comments.  This meme is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Book Review and Giveaway: The Tea Planter's Wife by Dinah Jefferies

Pages: 432
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: September 13, 2016
Publisher: Crown
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "In this lush, sexy, atmospheric page-turner, a young Englishwoman, 19-year-old Gwendolyn, marries a rich and seductively mysterious widower, Laurence Hooper, after a whirlwind romance in London. When she joins him at his Ceylon tea plantation, she's certain she'll be the perfect wife and, someday, mother. But life in Ceylon is not what Gwen expected. The plantation workers are resentful, the neighbors, and her new sister-in-law, treacherous. Gwen finds herself drawn to a Singhalese man of questionable intentions and worries about the propriety of her husband's connection to an American widow. But most troubling are the terrible secrets in Laurence's past that soon come to light and force Gwen to make a devastating choice. What happened to his first wife? And will the darkness of his past destroy their marriage and Gwen's chance at happiness? Set in rich and exotic 1920s Ceylon, The Tea Planter's Wife is an utterly engrossing, compulsive page-turner that climaxes with more than one heartbreaking twist."

Gwen, a young English woman, marries the man of her dreams and is uprooted to tropical Ceylon to become the mistress of a tea plantation.  She knows nothing about the new land she lives in let alone how to run a tea plantation or a great house, but she is willing to learn.  After all, she is madly in love with Laurence, but sometimes things get confusing.  He is really elusive at times and isn't entirely clear when he answers her questions about what his life was like in Ceylon before her arrival.  Is this just the ups and downs of married life or is he hiding secrets? Enter Christina, an American socialite and banker, who meets with Laurence a lot regarding his investments. Gwen never truly feels comfortable around her and then there's Verity, Laurence's clingy and annoying sister.  Not only does she hang around the house too much, Laurence even gives her an allowance and takes care of her. The dynamic is definitely off and Gwen is here without any friends or family.  Whenever she asks about Laurence's first wife, Caroline, she is met with a lot of strange answers, if any answers at all.  How did Caroline die? Then there's Savi, a Sinhalese painter, who she originally befriends, but can she trust him? Laurence wants nothing to do with him, but Gwen has no clue why. One thing is for sure, there are many, many secrets lurking in Ceylon and Gwen wants some answers. The Tea Planter's Wife by Dinah Jefferies is an atmospheric and mysterious read reminiscent of some of my favorite Gothic romances. 

I truly felt for Gwen as she is just a young girl in a foreign country without much help.  She is not only learning a new way of life, she is also learning what it takes to be a wife and mistress of a great plantation.  To make matters worse, it is clear that Laurence loves her, but is being very secretive regarding his past.  As The Tea Planter's Wife  continues on, Gwen learns more and more about what truly happened to Laurence's first wife, but things get complicated for her.  I don't want to give too much away, but it's surrounding Gwen's pregnancy.  What occurs afterwards will impact her life forever as she starts to withhold her own life-altering secrets.

I don't think the romance was very strong in The Tea Planter's Wife . I felt like Laurence did love her, but I didn't feel a strong connection between them like I was hoping for. The novel excelled at the mystery and bringing the exotic setting to life, but the character of Laurence wasn't full fleshed out. He was wishy washy at times and a push over, which I found really unappealing. How he deals with his annoying sister was frustrating and I seriously wanted her out of the picture.

The best part of The Tea Planter's Wife  was Jefferies ability to bring to life the gorgeous and exotic setting of Ceylon to life.  It was very atmospheric and I loved her descriptions of the house, the tropical foliage, the lake, the surrounding forest, and so much more.  Since parts of this story were rather dark and the setting was a sprawling plantation house, this novel definitely had a Gothic vibe to it, which I enjoyed.

The last quarter of the novel and conclusion of The Tea Planter's Wife  was a bit disappointing for me and rather quick, but overall, I found the novel to be entertaining.  The Tea Planter's Wife  is definitely for fans of historical fiction who like stories filled with secrets and suspense. 

Thanks to Crown Publishing, I have an extra ARC of this novel to give away to one lucky US reader. Please refer to my giveaway rules and the deadline is November 2, 2016.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, October 21, 2016

If You Love YA and Historical Fiction.....

People are always telling me that they love adult historical fiction, but can't find a YA historical read that is equally compelling and one with out too much fantasy. Here's the YA historical reads that I am always recommending to other readers. Also, if you are interested in my full review of each novel, you can find them listed by author here.  

1.  Ruta Sepetys - You can't go wrong with Sepetys' novels. She is one of the best YA authors out there and her historical reads are so moving.  I read and loved Salt to the Sea and Out of the Easy. I also want to read Between Shades of Gray, which I hear is also fantastic.

2.  Forbidden series by Kimberley Griffiths Little - This is a fun series if you are looking for something a bit different.  It takes place during the Bronze age and is filled with a lot of adventure.

3.  Jennifer Donnelly - Donnelly is another awesome author that rarely disappoints. These Shallow Graves is a great historical mystery that takes place in the Gilded Age of New York City.  A Northern Light and Revolution are also fantastic historical novels for the YA audience.

4.  Katherine Longshore's Tudor novels - Brazen, Tarnish, and Gilt are very entertaining Tudor novels for YA and even though I have read my fair share of stories focusing on Henry VIII, these definitely bring something new to the table.

5.  Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers - It takes place in the 1400s and the nuns are trained killers. Need I say more? 

6.  Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein - This is a powerful and thought provoking novel that takes place during WWII.

6.  The Red Umbrella by Christina Diaz Gonzalez - I love that this novel focuses on a topic that isn't covered frequently-- Operation Pedro Pan, where thousands of children left Castro's revolution in Cuba.

7.  Luxe series by Anna Godbersen - This guilty pleasure series is fantastic. Who doesn't love the Gilded Age in New York City and all of the drama, not to mention gorgeous outfits, that it brings? It's like an old-school Gossip Girl.

8.  A Spy in the House (Agency Series) by Y.S. Lee - I have only read the first book in this series, but was definitely impressed. I love a good historical mystery and this one didn't disappoint; plus, the setting is Victorian London!

9.  Laurie Halse Anderson - Chains and Fever 1793 are really compelling historical reads. Chains takes place during the Revolutionary War and Fever 1793 takes place in Philadelphia, which I love, and even the most reluctant of readers will be completely engrossed in this tale about the devastating disease that swept the city.

10.  The Book Thief by Markus Zusak - My list wouldn't be complete without recommending this much loved book that takes place during WWII and it's an unforgettable tale.

11.  Cat Winters - While Winters has been dabbling in adult historical fiction, her young adult historical reads are even more compelling in my opinion.  I thoroughly enjoyed The Cure for Dreaming; the spooky atmosphere of this novel is perfect for this time of the year! I also recommend The Steep and Thorny Path; Winters combines historical fiction and a compelling murder mystery very well. 

Honorable Mentions:

  • Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson  (Gold Rush) 
  • Venom by Fiona Paul (17th Century Venice)

So, what are some of your favorite YA historical novels?  Let me know what you think of my list in the comments below.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Book Review: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Pages: 446
Genre: YA Fantasy
Pub. Date: April 28, 2015
Publisher: Razorbill
Source: Library
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.  Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.  It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do. But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.  There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself."
Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother in a world reminiscent of ancient Rome. They live in a humble abode in the poor section of the Empire and they don't attract too much attention.  Well, that's what Laia initially thought.  However, her brother seems to be involved with the Resistance, much to her surprise, and in the middle of the night, their house ends up being ransacked by the Masks, an elite group of warriors for the Empire.  Her brother is arrested for treason and while she escaped, she plans on finding the Resistance with the hopes that they will help her rescue her brother before his imminent death.  Then there's Elias, a solider at Blackcliff Military Academy and son of the infamous Commandant.  One would think that he is revered by his powerful mother, but that is not the case; in fact, Elias is against everything the Empire stands for. While he is strong and an elite fighter, he doesn't agree with the violence and misuse of power that runs rampant at Blackcliff, so much so that he wants to run away. But all that changes when he finds himself competing for the throne, that is if he can actually survive the Trials.  Sabaa Tahir's An Ember in the Ashes is an engaging debut and although it's filled with violence and dark themes, it has incredible world-buidling and a compelling plot.

I wish I could say I loved Laia from the beginning of An Ember in the Ashes, but I didn't.  She was just an ok heroine for me; to be honest, I wanted more from her.  She is a bit too timid for my liking.  I was hoping she'd be more like Katniss, but that didn't deter the fact that I was rooting for her from the beginning. I just wish she would have saved herself a bit more often.  I do find her quest admirable though when it comes to saving her brother; however, she was just so naive about the whole thing.

Now regarding bad a** chicks, there's one of my favorite character, Helene, Elias's best friend. Now she is the kind of girl I love when it comes to fantasy novels. I wanted more from her as I found her to be especially intriguing. She is not only a fellow student at Blackcliff Military Academy and one of the only females, she is also one of the best fighters. She remained me of Rose from The Vampire Academy series and that's high praise.

Also, Elias was one of the best parts about An Ember in the Ashes. He's a complex character, not just a tough guy and he is driven by his morals.  I loved that he wanted more for himself than to just be a solider for the Empire and I was hoping he'd escape the Empire's clutches.  Once he starts competing in the Trials, that only added to the suspense. Man, those trials are brutal and had me on the edge of my seat.

The world building was superb in An Ember in the Ashes. That's where Tahir truly excels. What a compelling world! It was sort of a mash-up of ancient Rome meets The Hunger Games and I loved being lost in it.

What rubbed me the wrong way with An Ember in the Ashes was the sexual violence. I often found myself wincing more often than not, especially with all the references to rape and abuse/imbalance of power. I wish Tahir didn't rely on some of these plot devices that I found to be very unsettling. Also, regarding the violence, the Commandant is extremely cruel and the scenes involving her torturing others definitely almost made me put down the novel for good.  There's so much bloodshed! But I had to know what was going to happen to Laia and Elias.

Despite my hesitations regarding the brutality and sexual violence, I could easily see why An Ember in the Ashes was a runaway bestseller. I needed a book to get me out of a possible reading slump and that it did.  I will definitely be reading the second book in the series, A Torch Against the Night, which just came out this August.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: Romancing the Throne

This is a weekly meme hosted by Jill from Breaking the Spine.  "Waiting on Wednesday" spotlights upcoming releases that I'm eagerly anticipating.

Romancing the Throne by Nadine Jolie Courtney
Pub. Date: May 17, 2017

Goodreads says, "For the first time ever, the Weston sisters are at the same boarding school. After an administration scandal at Libby’s all-girls school threatens her chances at a top university, she decides to join Charlotte at posh and picturesque Sussex Park. Social-climbing Charlotte considers it her sisterly duty to bring Libby into her circle: Britain’s young elites, glamorous teens who vacation in Hong Kong and the South of France and are just as comfortable at a polo match as they are at a party.  It’s a social circle that just so happens to include handsome 17-year-old Prince Edward, heir to Britain’s throne.  Charlotte’s had her eye on Edward, and soon they’re snogging all over the campus lawn and common rooms—while Libby busies herself with settling into her studies and navigating the complicated social code of Sussex Park. Eager to put her sister at ease, Charlotte encourages Libby to hang out with her new boyfriend. And much to everyone’s surprise, Libby and Edward hit it off.  Actually, they really hit it off.  In this juicy, contemporary girl-meets-prince story, two sisters find themselves at odds over the same boy amid high-society expectations and paparazzi scandals. In the end, there may be a price to pay for romancing the throne . . . and more than one path to happily ever after."

Ever since I read The Royal We (which I adored by the way!), I am all about these types of stories; although, I am not so sure about two sisters competing....seems very Boleyn like. Nonetheless, I think this one would look great in my beach bag. What do you guys think?

Monday, October 17, 2016

"In the Spirit" Workman Publishing Halloween Tour and Giveaway

Halloween is quickly becoming the most popular holiday in my house. My little guy gets more excited for it with each passing year and my other little man is already fascinated by all things Halloween.  When I was given the opportunity to share Workman Publishing's latest Halloween reads for kids, I jumped at the opportunity.  Who doesn't love a spooky read this time of the year?

EEK! Halloween by Sandra Boynton is one of our absolute favorites. You can't go wrong with Boynton! Not only does my four year old enjoy it, but my little guy loves the story and illustrations.  The rhyming and the various "strange things" that the chickens see are absolutely too cute. What are these strange things? Well, it's Halloween, of course! We love that it's a board book as well, which means we can enjoy it for years to come.

Papertoy Glowbots by Brian Castleforte - So, this book says for ages 9 and up, but my four year old LOVES it. It's his favorite book of the five I'm sharing today. He and his dad are enjoying putting together these robots and reading all about them.  The best part? The glow in the dark stickers that you add to the robots! This is a seriously fun book and perfect for a rainy day. The robots can easily be put together with an adult if kids in your life are too young. Plus, it's also a great way to get older children accustomed to reading and following directions in order to put the robot together correctly. 

Frightlopedia by Jule Winterbottom - I have read parts of this book to my four year old and I'm saving the scarier stuff for when he's older.  However, we are thoroughly enjoying checking this frightening book out. It's perfect for Halloween.  It goes over scary places, spooky creatures and the best part, some of these places and creatures are real!

Fearsome Creatures of the Lumberwoods by Hal Johnson - My little ones might be too young for this, so I am saving this one for our enjoyment in a few years, but I have perused it. I think it's perfect for a spooky night or a Halloween sleepover where kids share scary stories. I love that some of the illustrations glow in the dark; that only adds to the spook factor! I know I would have loved this as a kid. It was originally published in 1910 and now the stories are retold by Johnson; it's definitely reminiscent of a time when people were afraid of the deep, dark woods and the creatures that lurk there.  Could you imagine taking this one with you on a camping trip??!?

Oh, Ick: 114 Science Experiments Guaranteed to Gross You Out! by Joy Masoff with Jessica Garrett and Ben Ligon - There's something you should know. The boys in my house LOVE science. Not sure how that happened, but my oldest is into all things science, so this book is right up his alley. He can't wait to check this one out with me and take part in some of the gross experiments. What kid wouldn't want to make slime or embark on an insect safari? I'm always on the hunt for books that will keep my kid occupied on a snowy or rainy day and this one fits the bill for sure! 

Thanks to Workman Publishing, I am giving away an awesome Halloween prize package featuring all five of the books above along with a Workman Publishing tote and a few other surprises! How awesome is that! Plus, it's perfect Halloween treat for the little one in your life.  Please make sure you refer to my giveaway rules and the deadline is October 27th. It's open to US readers only. Good luck! 

Don't forget to visit the other stops on Workman's "In the Spirit" Blog Tour! Here's the line-up:

October 10: Lisa/A Rup Life
October 11: Jessika/Kidliterati
October 12: Jennifer/Reviews Coming at YA
October 13: Laura/Literacious 
October 14: Sandie/Teen Lit Rocks
October 17: Christina/Confessions of a Book Addict
October 18: Kate/Ex Libris
October 19: Lori/Pure Imagination
        Lauren/Love is a not a Triangle
October 20: Andrea/The Overstuffed Bookshelf
October 21: Katie/Mundie Kids

a Rafflecopter giveaway 

Happy Halloween!

Related Posts with Thumbnails
Design by: Designer Blogs